Bitreserve, the latest attempt to introduce bitcoin to the mass market, opened for business today. The platform lets users store their bitcoin and convert it to a number of different currencies. It also promises users total transparency in the form of a balance sheet updated in real-time.
The platform has been operating in beta since May, but its promised transparency options have only now become available to users. At launch, a new status page has gone live, detailing Bitreserve's assets and its obligations to its users.
At press time, Bitreserve's assets stood at $166,091 and its obligations were $113,025. According to those figures, the firm's assets cover its obligations by 147%.
Further transparency data, including information to trace a transaction to the bitcoin block chain, and a dataset showing all transactions between Bitreserve and its users, is also available to download. The company calls the block chain traceability data the Reservechain, while its feed of transactions with its users is called the Reserveledger.
Bitreserve promises external audits of its accounts every 90 days in order to verify the accuracy of the data contained in its Reservechain and Reserveledger. It hasn't announced who it has engaged as auditor.
The Bitreserve launch was intended for mid-October but the company suffered a two-week delay because of compliance issues, according to a public relations executive representing the company.
The founder of Bitreserve is Halsey Minor, who started CNET in the 1990s before going on to invest successfully in technology companies like Salesforce.com and Grand Central, which was acquired by Google and incorporated into Google Voice. He also faced recalled loans and other financial setbacks in the wake of the 2008 crisis.
In June, Minor gave CoinDesk a preview of the platform while it was still in beta. The launch version looks almost identical, with a few cosmetic additions like the ability to select a 'theme' on the platform's home page.
However, as we noted in our review of the service then, Bitreserve relies on a 'bitcoin in, bitcoin out' system. This means users can only purchase items from merchants who already accept bitcoin, or from merchants who have joined Bitreserve and will accept payments denominated in fiat on the platform.
Bitreserve currently recommends users look for bitcoin-accepting merchants on useBitcoins and it has not yet announced that any retailers have joined its platform.
UPDATE (31st Oct 5:47pm): Article was changed to show Bitreserve's launch was because of compliance issues instead of engineering issues, as originally stated, after Bitreserve said the earlier reason supplied was a mistake.
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