We're hearing that BitPay, a platform that processes payments in bitcoin for merchants, is raising the field's biggest round yet. The company is raising $30 million on a roughly $160 million valuation in a round led by Index Ventures, with Richard Branson and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang participating. BitPay declined to comment. With BitPay's previous funding round, the company's financing tops the combined $26 million that Boston-based rival Circle has raised from Accel Partners, or the $31 million that San Francisco-based Coinbase raised from Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures or the $20 million round that Benchmark led for Xapo. It's yet another sign that the bitcoin ecosystem is maturing with big chunks of funding coming from top-tier venture firms. While there have been high-profile collapses like Mt.Gox's bankruptcy, it feels like every major fund wants at least one bet in the space in case bitcoin does live up to the hype. Back in December, BitPay said it had processed more than $100 million in transactions last year. They recently scored backing from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing through his Horizons Ventures vehicle. BitPay has also had some high-profile tests with clients like Zynga and Branson already. BitPay earns revenue via different tiers of accounts for smaller, medium-sized and enterprise clients that range from $30 to $300 and then a custom level. They also have a starter kit that charges 1 percent of all transactions. The Atlanta-based company has previously raised funding from Founders Fund, along with angel investors including WordPress' Matt Mullenweg and bitcoin regulars Roger Ver and SecondMarket CEO Barry Silbert.
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