Indonesia: East Ventures leads funding round in Bitcoin.co.id

Oscar Darmawan, CEO of Bitcoin.co.id. Photo by Bitcoin.co.id

VC firm East Ventures has led an undisclosed financing round in Bitcoin.co.id, a digital asset exchange platform based in Indonesia, according to an announcement today. The platform has said it aims to use the funding to expand its reach in the Southeast Asia region.

Willson Cuaca, Managing Partner at East Ventures, said he believes that blockchain technology will gain traction in Indonesia as it can help change the way people do business, reduce transaction costs, speed up verification, reduce single point of failure, and become the protocol of decentralization.

“We believe that as the front-runner in technology innovation, we cannot ignore blockchain,” Cuaca stated, adding that his company expects to see more innovations in this space and to invest more into the category.

East Ventures recently invested in media group IDN Media, on-vehicle ad startup StickEarn, and online car financing site MobilKamu. Previous investments include Tokopedia, Traveloka, Mercari, Disdus (acquired by Groupon), Kudo (acquired by Grab), Tech in Asia, Omise, Ruangguru, Jurnal, Cermati, Mokapos, Shopback, EV Hive, and Loket (acquired by Go-Jek).

Founded in May 2013 by Oscar Darmawan and William Sutanto, Bitcoin.co.id started as an online media platform, providing news about digital assets for local bitcoin users. As it developed, the founders say they realized that the bigger challenge faced by the bitcoin community was to find a platform that can facilitate purchasing and selling of assets. In February 2004, Bitcoin.co.id transformed to become the first bitcoin exchange in Indonesia.

It was crowned as the largest bitcoin exchange in Southeast Asia in 2005. Currently, Bitcoin.co.id claims to have more than “hundred thousands” of users from Indonesia, who can choose to purchase or sell bitcoin and other digital cryptocurrency assets such as ethereum, ripple, litecoin, and waves.

“I always believe this public technology Blockchain is one of the answers to help our financial inclusion to gain access to the financial world. We from Bitcoin.co.id, will not only continue to educate and working on Indonesian market, but also will start our expansion plans to reach other countries across Southeast Asia,” Oscar Darmawan, CEO of Bitcoin.co.id, said in a statement.

Ironically, Indonesian authorities announced last month that Bank Indonesia (BI) will not recognize bitcoin as a means of payment. The central bank did not specify its position on other cryptocurrencies. However, market players assume that the ban extends to all cryptocurrencies.

As a result, Bitcoin payment platforms Toko Bitcoin and Bitbayar – who are also affiliated with Bitcoin.co.id under Bitcoin Indonesia – voluntarily closed down in order to “comply with the Indonesian regulator.”

However, Darmawan said that the closures have had no impact on business.

“Bitcoin.co.id has never set a foot in the payment area and it never has plans to do so. We are an intermediary for public blockchain tokens, so it does not have much effect on our business. In running the business, complying with the regulation set by our government is our top priority,” Darmawan told DEALSTREETASIA.

Commenting on the BI statement, Darmawan had said that there was “no need to be concerned”, and that the company will continue to expand its exchange business, making sure that it is “in line with regulations”.

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