Thanks to a new technology from OpenCoin, Ripple users just got access to more than 8,500 Bitcoin-accepting merchants, as well as the rest of the Bitcoin world.
OpenCoin, developers of the virtual currency protocol Ripple, announced today that Ripple users now will be able to pay directly to all Bitcoin addresses. Using a new feature called Bitcoin Bridge, users will be able to send payments in any currency and have the recipient get that payment in Bitcoins with no additional cost.
The move is significant because it demonstrates the distributed nature of OpenCoin’s virtual currency network. Said CEO Chris Larsen in a press release, “Now, anyone can send Bitcoins without having to use a central exchange.”
Larsen similarly sees Bitcoin Bridge as a boon for merchants who accept Bitcoin.
The company also announced on Tuesday that their first U.S. gateway was now live. Using the SnapSwap gateway
, Ripple users now can fund their Ripple wallets directly from their U.S.-based bank accounts.
OpenCoin’s Ripple protocol is a virtual currency and distributed currency exchange. The technology has a number of payment system applications, ranging from merchant payments to remittances.
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, OpenCoin demoed its technology as part of the FinovateSpring 2013 show in May, Watch the company’s presentation here