By Jacqueline Corba and Tanaya Macheel
Bitcoin payment service provider BitPay obtained its virtual currency license this week from the New York Department of Financial Services.
The approval marks a major first for any virtual payment processor, but it's only the beginning, BitPay Chief Commercial Officer Sonny Singh told Cheddar's Crypto Craze Thursday.
"The BitLicense is great for New York, but we also have to have licenses in every state," Singh said. "Now you are going to start seeing the retailers get on board."
Merchants already on board with BitPay range from e-commerce sites to real estate and law firms. Its most notable clients include Fancy, Magnum Real Estate, and Starr Associates Law Firm.
"They have their crypto clients paying them in Bitcoin, that's a pretty exciting thing to see now that it's happening," said Singh.
But Bitcoin for payments is still a far-off future. Last year, BitPay completed $1.3 billion in payment transactions. Stripe, for comparison, processes about $50 billion annually, and Visa about $2 trillion.
BitPay was one of the biggest names during the industry's earlier years, but the company has been fairly quiet for the past few months. An early supporter of Bitcoin, Stripeーone of the largest payment processors that powers payments for companies like Lyft, Postmates, and other mobile commerce companiesーditched the capability earlier this year. Mainstream interest in cryptocurrencies has boomed, butーat least in the U.S.ーit's only for buying and holding or selling Bitcoinーnot actually spending it.
Bitcoin payment volume is much greater in Asia: Japan has even made it legal currency, and Bitcoin transactions account for about half of the country’s global trade volume. That may explain BitPay’s latest round of funding: $40 million from Menlo Ventures and a number of Asian investors like Capital Nine to expand into emerging Asian markets. Big names such as Index Ventures, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, and RRE Ventures were all part of BitPay's first funding round in 2014.
Now, Singh is looking to 2019 as the year when more traditional incumbents will join the system, which may help close the digital currency's adoption gap.
"I think next year is going to be mass adoptionーnot for BitPay and Coinbase, but more from the traditional companies like Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, Squareーgetting into the industry in a big way," said Singh.
For the full segment, click here.