Two California Startups Create BitDazzle to Take Bitcoin Mainstream

10/15/13Follow @bvbigelow

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it now has 254,000 users and nearly 200,000 transactions per month, and will handle all Bitcoin payment processing for BitDazzle. Despite the government crackdown on Silk Road, Bitcoin deals have been drawing increasing interest from Web investors, according to The Washington Post, which recently reported that Coinbase is now processing $20 million worth of Bitcoins a month, up from $1 million in February.

Cashie Commerce was spun out in 2011 from WebAssist, a private San Diego company (where Bui was a co-founder) that provides high-end software development for e-commerce websites. Bui, a longtime San Diego software engineer, said he saw the potential for a separate company that would provide a Web-based “shopping cart” platform for micro merchants.

“Their biggest problem is that they can’t drive traffic to their stores,” Bui said. Bui, who told me he escaped from Vietnam with relatives when he was 4, has raised $650,000 in seed funding from the San Diego Tech Coast Angels and 500 Startups for Cashie Commerce, which now has eight full-time and three contract employees. In a testament to his perseverance (and the fund-raising challenges for San Diego tech startups) Bui told me he took 200 meetings to raise the $650,000. “All the answers I had to come up with helped me make my business,” he says.

Hieu Bui

Hieu Bui

When I sat down with him a couple months ago, Bui said many of their customers “are the folks who sell on Etsy.” They are companies like Maple Rowe, which sells handmade, high-quality organic soaps; Words to Sweat By, which sells motivational fitness apparel and accessories; and Deano’s Jalapenos, which sells spicy chips.

Cashie Commerce now supports credit card and PayPal transactions for about 3,000 merchant customers around the world, Bui said. About a third of those customers are already able to create a listing on BitDazzle, which gives their customers the option of paying for products with a credit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin. Other customers will be encouraged to add BitDazzle as an option as Cashie Commerce expands its capabilities.

Bitcoin was conceived as an encrypted digital currency on a peer-to-peer electronic cash payment system that removes the need to deal with third parties, such as banks.

BitDazzle offers a better transaction price for online merchants, Bui explained. Where credit card companies charge merchants 2.9 percent plus 35 cents per transaction (with roughly equivalent terms charged by PayPal), BitDazzle charges a flat 1 percent fee per transaction. In August, Coinbase said its Bitcoin payment processing would be free to customers for their first $1 million in orders—an incentive that has been extended to BitDazzle, Bui said.

Transaction prices are lower, he said, because “there is no central authority. There is no central bank. There is no one entity that owns it.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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