PubNub has built a business around offering APIs that let developers stream different services such as messaging and other interactive services in their apps and websites. Today it’s adding a new module that focuses specifically on Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency du jour.
If you go to PubNub’s new site for the service, called the Bitcoin Exchange Solution Kit, you will see that its own demonstration of the service is being powered with data from MtGox, one of the biggest of the Bitcoin exchanges. MtGox is one of PubNub’s customers, it turns out, and its use of PubNub to power the streaming on its own homepage, along with the rise in interest in Bitcoin, are the two main forces that prompted the new solution.
Todd Greene, PubNub’s CEO and co-founder, declined to tell me in what currency MtGox pays its PubNub bills, or any other details about the service, for that matter, including how long it has been working with MtGox. Or what size MtGox’s business represents for PubNub. The company has around 500 large customers (which include companies like Rebtel, Viggle, GetTaxi, Humble Bundle, StageIT, Spreecast, Celly, Monotype, Class Dojo, Coca Cola and others) Greene says, and it currently delivers real-time data to some 150 million devices per month. “That’s a bigger number than any single Bitcoin exchange,” he said. His company at the moment does not transact in Bitcoin.
What he did do was point me to MtGox’s developer page on the service, first quietly posted about two weeks ago, which notes that it opted for PubNub “due to the difficulty to cope with the kind of volumes of data [needed] to broadcast real-time while keeping a reliable service.”
The page also describes a list of public channels created on the PubNub API that can be accessed by third party developers that use Bitcoin data.
The new solution kit covers a few different areas, PubNub says:
— Real time public pricing data stream for financial streams that can be sent to “millions of devices in less than ¼ of a second without the need for any costly servers or configuration.”
— Transaction and pricing history, which encrypts private data streams.
— Secure streaming channels to users.
— Community message board features such as user detection and collaboration.
— User analytics for exchanges to track trade volume, pricing, geographical information and more over time.
— PubNub guarantees that network sockets remain open to any device “so Bitcoin pricing data and trades are delivered in under ¼ of second anywhere in the world.”
Bitcoin — a cryptocurrency whose supporters believe it offers a viable, more efficient and scalable way of paying for things than more traditional fiat currencies — has also been the subject of a lot of criticism for being a bubble currency only being pushed ahead by speculators.
Still, prominent people who have based much of their modus operandi on making big bets on the future are bullish on bitcoin. Andreessen Horowitz recently named a new partner, Balaji Srinivasan, specifically to focus on it and other disruptive forces that touch the technology world like drones, 3d printing and genetic testing.
Regardless of whether it’s healthy growth or speculation fuelling the rush around bitcoin, it’s proving to be a very hot commodity right now. PubNub estimates that Bitcoin transactions are now exceeding 100,000 per a day, and its value now bobs above $1,000, compared to $13 only a year ago.