Today, Coinsetter, a New York City-based startup looking to launch a new Forex trading platform for Bitcoin, announced today that it has raised $500,000 in seed capital. The round was led by Tribeca Venture Partners and SecondMarket founder and CEO Barry Silbert (through his Bitcoin Opportunity Fund), with participation from angel investors like Jimmy Furland, a London-based technology entrepreneur, Microsoft Head of Corporate Strategy, Charles Songhurst, and Facebook Product Lead, Ben Davenport.
The investment comes at a time when there’s been a flurry of new interest in Bitcoin, given that the crypto-currency just officially became a billion-dollar market at the end of March. Since then, venture capitalists have weighed in on what they love about Bitcoin, including its potential to not only “disrupt multi-billion-dollar markets, but in doing so also create new big markets,” Lightspeed Ventures’ Jeremy Liew wrote in TechCrunch this weekend.
As is the case with any new concept — let alone a new, unregulated and decentralized virtual currency — there are plenty of conflicting views. Some see Bitcoin as a harbinger of “the end of money,” many more see it as some kind of threat, while others shrug it off as a passing fad.
Coinsetter, on the other hand, is one of many that see opportunity in applying familiar market practices to the wild, wacky and virtual world of Bitcoin. With its new funding in tow, the New York City-based startup plans to launch a Forex trading platform for Bitcoin, specifically one that allows people to make leveraged trades on margin and short the market. While these practices are available in all mature markets, says co-founder Jaron Lukasiewicz, “they’re virtually absent in the Bitcoin space.”
Coinsetter wants to make Bitcoin more accessible to both mainstream and institutional users by focusing on security, transparency and by offering a simple user experience. On top of that, the startup plans to launch an ancillary arm that will offer a “scalable solution for accredited investors and institutions to earn interest on their bitcoins,” Lukasiewicz says.
The co-founder also says that the company plans to go out of its way to offer added layers of security and protection that go beyond what the market currently offers, including “insurance against hacks,” and operate within the legal framework of the U.S., he says. By doing so, the co-founders believe that the trading platform can become an attractive service for Bitcoin traders as well as Forex traders and online gamblers.
To put his money where his mouth is, Lukasiewicz, a former investment banker, has said that he will “put up at least $50,000 of his own money towards the platform’s initial margin reserves,” as reported by The Bitcoin Trader. The article goes on to point out that, while promising, Coinsetter isn’t the only service looking to offer margin trading.
There’s also the steadily-growing, Hong Kong-based Bitfinex as well as ICBIT.se, both of which have been around for some time.
This means that not only will Coinsetter have to compete with a growing set of margin trading services, but with the skepticism generated from a series of failures for similarly-positioned, like margin trading platform Bitcoinca, which went down thanks to a security flaw. Kronos.io and Bitdaytrade also went down thanks to hacks and poor site design.
By focusing on security and building a more appealing user experience from the get-go, the co-founders believe that Coinsetter can succeed where others have failed. Lukasiewicz concludes:
We can see the recent growth in bitcoin quickly transforming the market into a more mature space, with growing interest from experienced traders. By introducing a new margin trading platform that enables leverage and the shorting of Bitcoin, we think we can help traders execute new strategies, while adding to the overall efficiency of the market.