MonetaGo, a new exchange with ambitions to take bitcoin "global", launched across 40 countries today.
First announced in April, the platform offers bitcoin buying and selling in 28 local currencies. As a twist, MonetaGo users can also 'fix' or 'peg' their bitcoin to these various exchange rates.
Speaking to CoinDesk, serial entrepreneur Jesse Chenard, MonetaGo's CEO, said:
"Digital currency is supposed to be this global phenomenon that is going to enable the seamless transmission of funds across borders, but the reality of it is that 90-something percent of all bitcoin trading happens in three currencies only."
In extending services to underserved markets outside the dollar, yuan and euro, Chenard and his co-founders hope to make bitcoin more accessible and cost effective for new users.
On the surface, MonetaGo's interface is little different to other exchanges out there. However, under the bonnet the platform – built using Alphapoint technology – has access to 35 order books from a network of regional partner exchanges, via their API.
Chenard said the platform aims to reach 50 partners by the end of 2015.
Much like Bitreserve, MonetaGo offers users the ability to 'fix' their bitcoin value to any of its 27 regional currencies. However, whereas the former does not offer the option to cash out 'Bitdollars' into real dollars (only bitcoin), MonetaGo does.
The ability to send this fixed-value bitcoin to other users, who can then convert it into other currencies, could be beneficial to businesses, not just consumers, Chenard said.
Besides shielding both parties from bitcoin's volatility, the process could speed up payments for companies who lack a fast and reliable corresponding banking network between them.
"You have a balance of $12 and you wind up having to spend another $45 to get them their $18."
Chenard says he is "still rationalising" how people will use this 'send' functionality. For now, the focus is on getting MonetaGo's banking relationships watertight, to ensure fiat on- and off-ramps are smooth.
In terms of fees, the platform will be free of charge for the first few weeks, later charging between 0.1% and 0.5% per trade, dependent on each user's monthly volume.
"If you're converting twice [by using the 'send' function] we're looking at ways to halve that fee as we're double charging at that point," the CEO said.
MonetaGo is privately funded by a handful of investors, including Chenard, who says the exchange is likely to raise a round "fairly shortly".
Alongside Chenard, whose company Tremor Video went public in 2013, MonetaGo's founding team includes Chenard's "serial co-founder" CMO Tad Davis, ex-Alphapoint CEO Margaux Avedisian and Igot's Patrick Manasse.
Since its beginnings in October 2014, MonetaGo's team has been laser-focused on compliance. The New York company is in the process of completing the paperwork for its BitLicense, but has spent the last six months in talks with regulators and banks across the globe.
From these conversations, Chenard described a "shaking out phase" for bitcoin. Though some states, like New York, have made demands, others remain tight-lipped on the subject of bitcoin. This may soon change:
"I feel this year there is going to be a lot of clarity brought to how we are supposed to operate and what standards we are supposed to meet."
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