Coinplug, one of Seoul's foremost bitcoin startups has just announced that they have raised a second round of funding from Silicon Valley VCs, to the tune of $400k. This replicates a funding round that the company received just last November for the same amount. What is also impressive is that both rounds have come from Silicon Valley based Investors, a once rare occurrence for Korean startups.
This story also follows news we reported earlier this year that another Korean bitcoin exhange, Korbit, had also raised $400k from a star line up of Silicon Valley VCs. Interestingly Tim Draper's firm DFJ are now invested in both companies. Does this mean that Korean VCs are missing out on the next big thing, or have they made the smart choice to avoid bitcoin?
Hear from Bitcoin advocates and investors Naval Ravikant, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss and Korbit's CEO, Tony Lyu at beLAUNCH, in May.
The funding to the South Korean company comes from venture capitalist Tim Draper and his firm at Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Key Initiatives Technical Entrepreneur’s Chol Hwan Kim also had a hand in the investment.
This new investment comes after an initial investment of $400,000, funded by Silicon Valley investor SilverBlue in November 2013.
Coinplug is a bitcoin exchange that also develops wallet and merchant payment software. The company has also been branching out into the offline realm with the launch of a two-way bitcoin ATM in Gangnum, the heart of Seoul's financial district. To achieve this the company has teamed with Nautilus Hyosun, the largest bitcoin ATM manufacturer from the US, which also clearly demonstrates the global reach the company has achieved in a short time frame, since launching the company. I have even heard that Coinplug has rolled out a number of other ATMs across Seoul.
Richard Yun, COO at Coinplug stated that the company will use the new funds to hire more engineers in order to further its bitcoin payment solution developments. There are also plans to release English versions of its software by the end of this month. “The ATM is doing good" Yun explained. "Many people are happy to visit, purchase and sell bitcoin. Because of our bitcoin ATM, people are changing their bitcoin point of view.”
Yun also stated that the company would be releasing more news about their bitcoin ATMs in due course, but for now their main push is to take their technology overseas.
Bitcoin has been receiving a lot of bad press over the last few months and Yun was cautious in his assessment of the uptake of bitcoin fans in his home country. He stated that while Koreans are becoming ore knowledgeable about the digital currency, negativity from media reports heralding doom and gloom has led some to hesitate to put their money into the digital currency. On balance he feels that the feelings towards bitcoin in Korea can best be described as “neutral”.
What's Next For Coinplug?
As an exceptionally technology focused and forward thinking company, Coinplug is actively looking to get involved in opportunities both in the mobile gaming and the app markets. Yun and the Coinplug team see that bitcoin has huge potential in mobile gaming and they hope to produce payment solutions for online multi-player games and more. Demonstrating their ability to act on opportunity, the company has already released three new bitcoin apps on Android: A bitcoin wallet app, a trading app, and a POS system.
Coinplug has also added its own payment processing software for a large number of Korean businesses who are open to exploring bitcoin as a payments solution. Coinplug promises a “financial institution-level of security”, and allows merchants to make transactions without using a payment processor.
Other Korean bitcoin news: