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A Cross-Border Payments Startup Promises to Make the Blockchain Less ‘Intimidating’
December 16, 2016

By John Stewart

Startups and established players alike have been working out payments applications for distributed-ledger technology for several years, and on Thursday one of those applications went commercial. San Francisco-based Wyre, founded in 2013, launched its cross-border payments service based on the blockchain.

On the same day, Wyre also raised $5.8 million in a Series A round led by Amphora Capital, a Chinese venture firm. Joining in the funding round were payments companies China 9fBank and Baofoo.com, along with angel investors Digital Currency Group and Draper Associates.

Wyre works with payments companies, enabling access to the blockchain via an application programming interface. It says it can deliver cross-border funds in three to six hours, compared to the two or three days it says is the “industry standard.” It levies a fee ranging from 1% to 4.5% of the transaction value.

The company is counting on its ability to present an easy interface for more traditional payments processors. “Wyre acts as the intermediary [for] the more intimidating ‘blockchain’ technology,” it says in a press release. “Wyre removes all the confusion from the learning curve, and provides a simple, slick API for companies to get involved without needing to educate themselves on the nuances of this complex new technology.”

"Current wire services are difficult, expensive, and take too long. In a generation of instant gratification, we believe that money transfer should be too,” Michael Dunworth, Wyre’s chief executive and cofounder, said in a statement.

Although it has just launched its service commercially, Wyre has for the past 10 months been running a private beta with select payments companies, including NihaoPay, which processes payments for WeChat, China’s massive messaging platform. It says it is processing transactions at a daily rate of more than $1 million.

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