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Gem Raises New Funding Round; Opens API to the World

Op-ed - Gem Raises New Funding Round; Opens API to the World

To build a vibrant ecosystem of apps and services that integrate Bitcoin, it’s important that developers have an easy way to interact with the blockchain. And Gem, a developer API platform that does just that, announced today it is opening up its service to everyone.

“Bitcoin is new technology, and let’s be honest, a lot of the essentials required to use it are rough to figure out and can take a lot of manpower,” said Gem COO, Ken Miller, in a statement. “There are enough adoption hurdles already without developers actually being incentivized not to integrate Bitcoin. So we decided to do something about that.”

The API allows for unlimited transactions, 2-of-3 multi-signature security, Hardware Security module (HSM) cosigning protection, and numerous other features. And these, among other features, are ones that beta users have been relying on to build out formerly-complex functionality.

“We’ve seen a really incredibly diverse set of applications using our system – from some obvious suspects such as exchanges, marketplaces and payment processing — to some really fantastic applications working on things such as micropayments, payroll and BTM machines,” said Miller in an interview withBitcoin Magazine.

The reality for Bitcoin is that many developers would rather spend their time creating a magical user interface or an innovative use case rather than working on low-level cryptography and security. By enabling this functionality with an API, Gem hopes to reduce the time and effort necessary to create a secure Bitcoin integration. This would enable developers working on projects in other sectors such as banking and finance, identity management, and the Internet of Things to integrate blockchain capabilities easily.

Miller gave a use case where a company developing IoT technology could utilize Gem’s API.

“An interesting one could be medicine,” Miller said, “where you could envision wearable medical devices where multiple keys (or confirmations) are required to approve medicine prescription/administration, release of records, etc.”

Because the blockchain is secure, it could require both the doctor and the patient to give permission before the records could be sent to another source. Or perhaps it requires both parents to give permission for their child’s records to be sent. Gem’s API could handle that.

“Many developers are eager to incorporate Bitcoin into their products and services, but aren’t sure where to start, or are lacking resources to figure it out. It feels really good to say we’ve solved that problem,” said Micah Winkelspecht, Gem CEO and founder.

Gem Raises Additional Funding

Along with the news that Gem was opening their API to the public, the company also announced that it has raised an additional $1.3 million, which brings its total financing to $3.3 million. KEC Ventures was the lead investor, with First Round Capital, RRE Ventures, ECEG Partners, Birchmere Labs, Baroda Ventures, Amplify.LA, Tekton Ventures, Drummond Road Capital and Robert Wolfson all participating in the round.

“The growth of Gem’s platform in recent months has been really impressive. It’s great to see the impact of taking something as complicated as working with Bitcoin, and making it accessible to developers who might otherwise be turned off,” said Jeffrey Citron, Managing Partner at KEC Ventures, in a statement.

The company intends to use the money to increase the development of new features and also scale its services.

From PayPal to Bitcoin

Founder and COO Miller got his start with PayPal early on as its 22ndemployee. In an interview withBitcoin Magazine, Miller explained that Bitcoin seemed like a natural fit based on what he viewed was PayPal’s contribution to the Internet.

“I was one of the first employees at PayPal and experienced the power of building something durable that had a permanent impact on how online commerce occurs,” he said. He was part of the anti-fraud and risks systems that PayPal was incorporating, which Miller admits is an issue for Bitcoin.

“In late 2013 I started to dig into Bitcoin in a research capacity and quickly realized the protocol itself was maybe the most important invention we’ve seen after the Internet and mobile,” he said. And if it was going to have a permanent, lasting impact on society, “I wanted to get involved.”

Now that he’s entrenched with Bitcoin, his excitement continues to grow. When asked what excites him most about Bitcoin, his answer speaks to the technological innovation.

“Maybe not a conventional answer, but honestly, I’m most excited about its resiliency. Given the price volatility over the last several months, Bitcoin has been a bit of a punching bag during that period. It’s funny to think what might have happened to the Internet back in the late ’90s if there had been a daily fluctuating price attached to it, but fortunately that was not the case. But even with the price volatility associated with speculative bitcoin trading, the reality is there is the protocol behind it is so powerful and permanent that it cannot be uninvented and is obviously persevering through currency fluctuations and doomsday messages.”

The world has experienced Bitcoin. Whether the traditional financial sector is happy about it or not, it’s here to stay. And Gem hopes that by releasing its APIs to the general public, more products, applications and services will be built on it.