PayPal has announced it is mentoring a Bitcoin startup as part of its first startup incubator in Singapore.
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PayPal Incubator Welcomes Bitcoin Startup
ONEPAY, which operates as OneBit, will join the nine-month program along with two other fintech startups: Prosecure and Invoiceinterchange.
The startups will receive mentoring from PayPal executives as well as “networking opportunities,” Channel News Asia reports.
OneBit uses an app to facilitate payments to the 9 million plus merchants worldwide who use MasterCard PayPass near-field communication (NFC) technology using Bitcoin. The merchants themselves receive the equivalent amount in fiat currency at point of sale, and are not required to handle or even officially accept Bitcoin.
PayPal is yet to release details of the partnership, with OneBit in the meantime having been added to the incubator’s official website.
The move marks a surprise in PayPal’s treatment of disruptive technology, having previously sought to develop alternatives to Bitcoin as a means of international payment transfer.
Startups for the first incubator were reportedly selected “on criteria such as management team, differentiation of product and services as well as scalability and profitability of the markets they are aimed at.”
Windows for Opportunity
In March 2015, OneBit participated in the MasterCard Masters of Code (MoC) hackathon, also in Singapore. Following the hackathon, Venture Liang, vice president of communications for MasterCard’s Asia/Pacific arm, went on record to note that the startup does not have a formal relationship with MasterCard, something which PayPal could potentially seek to address should a future partnership ensue.
“To clarify, MasterCard does not have a relationship with OneBit. And, there is no card program currently available,” he wrote in a comment.
Naturally, all ideas/businesses that come out of the MoC series must operate within MasterCard policies, and MasterCard has a rigorous process to license specifications for our mobile contactless payments, and certify them to ensure that solutions follow specifications designed to balance the interest of all parties in the network including financial institutions, merchants and consumers.
OneBit is by no means the only player in the Bitcoin NFC app market. Plutus, which launched late last year, offers the same service to, it says, over 32 million merchants irrespective of NFC network. Nonetheless, OneBit seemingly intends to roll out its offering to Visa, UnionPay and American Express merchants in future.
Meanwhile, the PayPal incubator will also seek to support Prosecure, which facilitates free product returns for online purchases to increase reorder rates, and Invoiceinterchange, which uses P2P funding to allow small to medium-sized businesses to raise capital.
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Images courtesy of paypal-incubator.com, hackathon.io, newsroom.mastercard.com, bostinno.streetwise.co