Marketplace Payments Startup Balanced Partners With Coinbase And Adds Bitcoin Support

Payments platform Balanced has been gradually adding features to enable marketplaces to accept and make payments out to their users. Today the company is announcing that it’s integrated with Coinbase and will allow its customers to accept Bitcoin.

Now usually when we get pitches on new businesses “accepting Bitcoin” — like when a crappy NBA team or a space travel company does it — I’m inclined to pass on the news because it’s just a marketing gimmick and, really, who cares? Bitcoin has hardly hit mainstream adoption and so as a practical matter, the number of users buying NBA seats or booking space travel via Bitcoin is pretty insignificant.

But Balanced’s integration with Coinbase and its support for Bitcoin is a bit different.

That’s because, for one thing, Balanced operates as an API platform for two-sided payments transactions. In that way, its support for Bitcoin is mainly to enable its clients — the companies accepting payments from one party and making payouts to another — to use the feature.

Currently Balanced has more than 450 marketplaces using its payment solutions, and now any of them can easily accept Bitcoin as a payment option. It does that by connecting with end users’ Coinbase digital wallets.

According to Balanced co-founder Matin Tamizi, Coinbase will be listed as an option right alongside options for accepting credit card payments. Users who wish to pay with the new digital currency will be prompted to log in to their Coinbase digital wallet — sort of like logging into Facebook Connect — and then they’ll be able to instantly have money deducted from their account.

While the Bitcoin option is now there, it’s up to Balanced clients to implement if they want to start accepting the digital currency. Tamizi told me that it would only take about a day’s work for any of its partners to add Coinbase support to their usual payments flow.

The first few customer to do so will include crowdfunding platform Crowdtilt and crowdfunding patronage startup Gittip. But others are expected to be added over time as the program moves forward in beta.

For Balanced, the addition of Bitcoin is just one more option that it’s providing to customers. That includes features like pushing payments directly to debit cards and ACH payments.

The company, which was founded in 2010, has raised a total of $3.4 million from investors that include Andreessen Horowitz, CollabFund, SV Angel, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, celebrity investor Ashton Kutcher, and Reddit CEO Yishan Wong, among others. Now with more than 20 employees, it is processing more than $1 million in payments a day.

Image by Jason Benjamin with permission.