BitPay, an electronic payment service provider tipped to unseat Paypal as the world’s biggest digital currency banker, has chosen to set up its Latin American headquarters in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.
The Atlanta-based firm, which has already hired four software engineers and one business development manager in the South American country, has embarked on a campaign to win the confidence of merchants and central banks throughout the region. A few restaurants, hotels and transport service providers already accept bitcoins in Argentina, reports say.
A former executive of Microsoft, Alberto Liver Vega, has taken charge of helping the online bank expand in the region.
“Alberto has a strong background in technology and international relation. He has been working during the past 15 years on business and higher education agreements with organizations and companies such as SAP, Microsoft and Cisco,” stated the firm in a press release.
“BitPay is the perfect match and the natural platform for businesses to be able to use bitcoin easily and risk free in a voluntarily, open source and decentralized way,” Vega said.
Bitpay is an electronic payment processing system for the bitcoin currency and it enables online merchants to accept bitcoins, as a form of payment, just as they accept payments from Visa, Mastercard, or Paypal.
Founded in 2011, BitPay eliminates the need to send cash through third parties, such as banks or card payment processors. Its biggest drawback is that it is not regulated by a central bank. Yet, according to reports, more than 10 million bitcoins are in circulation around the world.
Banking regulators in India and China have refused to accept this virtual currency, because they fear that money stashed illegally in tax havens might sneak into their financial system in the guise of digital currency.
But several economists, including the former US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, have described bitcoin as a future currency. Unlike Paypal, bitcoins reduce the transaction cost significantly, easing the task of converting money from one currency to another.
In December 2013, Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing announced his investment in BitPay, which, according to South China Morning Post, handles transactions for 14,000 companies across 200 countries. About half of these merchants are in the United States, with 25% in Europe and 25% in the rest of the world.