Ratan Tata invests in virtual cash start-up Abra

Cluelead News: Abra, a Silicon Valley bitcoin startup, on Thursday revealed it had raised money from Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata and American Express, as part of its $12-million Series-A funding.

Abra raising funds was reported last month, but the company did not reveal Tata’s participation then. These are the first investments in the crypto-currency world for both American Express and Ratan Tata, a statement from the company said.

(Bitcoin is a system of electronic money, used for buying and selling online and without the need for a central bank. Bitcoin is also a unit of the bitcoin electronic system of money.)

Tata has been investing in Indian, as well as international start-ups, for about a year. He has invested in companies such as Ola, Paytm, Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Bluestone, and CarDekho. Tata has invested in at least 12 start-ups in the past year. He is also an advisor to private equity firms IDG Ventures, Kalaari Capital, and Jungle Ventures.

Using the Abra app, users can store digital cash and send money to any smartphone. It uses a network of individuals or businesses earning money by buying and selling digital cash to and from any consumer via the Abra app.

The company also announced that all registered users in the US and the Philippines will soon be able to use the Abra app. Currently, the app is available on Android and iOS. (iOS is an operating system used for mobile devices manufactured by Apple Inc.) Abra also announced its entry into online, digital cash-based merchant payments.

“As people and businesses transact more globally, there’s a need for more convenient and affordable ways to move money, and we think the blockchain could play an important role in the evolution of money transfer and commerce, especially in emerging markets,” said Harshul Sanghi, managing partner, American Express Ventures.

Abra also announced a set of new services and features to support global online merchants who wish to accept digital cash via the Abra app. Any merchant who integrates the Abra Merchant app into their web or mobile app can allow a consumer to pay for any product or service by typing in their mobile phone number at checkout.
Authorisation and settlement take place as soon as the consumer confirms the transaction via the Abra app.

The global launch of the Merchant API (application program interface) service of Abra is expected later this quarter.

“Abra foresees the convergence of payments and money transfer for these consumers into a single, global digital cash network that addresses all of these problems,” said Bill Barhydt, chief executive officer and founder of Abra.

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