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Update (3rd January, 20:00 BST): Ripio has clarified that it has closed $1.9m in funding, but intends to raise $2.3m.


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Argentinian bitcoin startup Ripio has announced what may be the first funding round of the new year, raising $1.9m in new capital amid a rebranding.

The company plans to raise an additional $400,000 in funding over the next 90 days via AngelList, bringing its total funding to $2.3m.

The Series A round was led by Huiyin Blockchain Venture, a China-based VC fund launched late last year by multi-billion-dollar investment firm Huiyin Group. Other participants in the round included Boost VC, Digital Currency Group and Draper VC – investors that also took part in the startup's $600k funding round in 2014.

Launched in mid-2014 as the startup's bitcoin brokerage (an adjunct at the time to its processor BitPagos), Ripio now becomes the company's flagship brand.

According to representatives, the decision comes as the startup's mission has shifted more toward consumer-facing services.

Ripio representative Juan Mendez told CoinDesk:

"BitPagos is a brand that was too linked to merchants and B2B payment processing. Over the last year and a half, we've shifted most of our efforts towards users [and] consumers and we needed a brand that suits our mission best."

Expansion bid

The round also caps a busy 2016 for the startup, as Ripio began offering bitcoin lending services earlier this year to customers based in Argentina.

According to Mendez, immediate plans for the new capital include growing its business development team and using those new resources to push further into South American markets. (There, the company says it serves more than 60,000 customers).

In late 2015, BitPagos acquired bitcoin exchange Unisend Argentina as part of its expansion plans, a move that coincided with a broader pattern of startup consolidations in the region.

The company is also looking to create growth in markets outside of the region, with a planned launch of its bitcoin brokerage and payment services in Mexico.

"Our main objective for Q1 is to increase our user base in Argentina and Brazil, and (at the same time) expand to Mexico," said Mendez.

HBV's pattern

The funding is also notable as it was backed by HBV, a relatively newcomer to the investment scene that launched with $20m in committed capital in November.

Backing Ripio, however, is mostly in line with its previously announced moves.

So far, the firm has invested only in bitcoin startups, including India-based exchange Unocoin and content monetization project Yours.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Ripio.

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