You’ve probably by now heard about Bitcoin, the peer-to-peer digital currency based on Satoshi Nakamoto’s infamous self-published essay, that is either a giant scam, a genius and innovative new frontier, or nothing new — depending on whom you ask.
For those unfamiliar, TechCrunch contributor Jon Evans best described it succinctly thus: “Bitcoin is an anonymous online currency whose transactions and monetary supply are verified by digital cryptography and maintained by an open-source peer-to-peer network”. You can read Evan’s post here and his follow up analysis here.
As Evans points out, Bitcoin has been around since 2009, but only recently has the hype engine caught wind of the currency, resulting in a flurry of media coverage, and reactions hot and cold, including U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s public denouncement of the network as a “money laundering” scheme.
The digital currency has evolved in fits and starts, like any early currency and exchange, with the founder of Sweden’s Pirate Party throwing his entire life savings into Bitcoins, while one user had nearly $500K worth of Bitcoinage stolen, and last month we covered the collapse of Mt. Gox, the network’s most popular exchange. Tumult everywhere you turn.
Nonetheless, based on the public examples of Mt. Gox’s vulnerabilities, Chad Pankewitz and team have founded a new Bitcoin exchange, called Ruxum, that is dedicated to bringing a more secure alternative for Bitcoin traders. Simply put, Ruxum makes it easy to buy, sell, and trade Bitcoin and virtual currency. And for now it’s free. (Invites herein.)
While there is a debate over what exactly to call Bitcoin currency, as it does not fit into existing categories of assets, with some calling it currency, securities, virtual currency, and more, Pankewitz said that he firmly believes Bitcoin can be a disruptive force in currency markets across sovereign borders.
In the late ’90s, he says, Pankewitz was the head of eBusiness for Citigroup Private Bank and his team was among the first to build a digital banking solution for high net worth individuals in Europe and also worked on Forex trading systems at Citigroup.
He brought that experience (along with team members from Fortune 500 companies) to Ruxum, where they’ve been developing their competing exchange, designed to bring Wall Street-level security to Bitcoin’s network. What’s more, according to the Pankewitz, Ruxum is the only Bitcoin exchange that has a public security policy, which readers can see here.
Today, Ruxum is launching into private beta with a new exchange that will allow users to buy, sell and trade both Bitcoin and Namecoin. Namecoin, for those unfamiliar, is a fork of the Bitcoin project, which uses the P2P network to, instead, build a decentralized domain name system that is less vulnerable to downages. For more on Namecoin, click here.
Ruxum will accept real money deposits, with cash payments being made by bank or wire transfers from nearly anywhere in the world. Currently, USD, EUR, GBP and JPY are accepted currencies, with six more coming in the near future, according to the Ruxum founder. Payments to Bitcoin and Namecoin addresses can be made anytime via a user’s Ruxum account.
Trading fees will be turned off during the beta, and users can trade as much as they’d like for free.
Ruxum is offering TechCrunch readers 500 invites to its private beta program. Readers can click here, where you can click on the “sign-up” link in the top right. Enter the code “techcrunch” (without the quotes) to create an account.
For more, the Ruxum FAQ is here.
Check it out and let us know what you think.