Blockchain acquires RTBTC, adds real-time trading, data, and news offering to become "the Bloomberg of bitcoin"

By Michael Carney , written on March 4, 2014

From The News Desk

Blockchain CEO Nic Cary announced the bitcoin wallet company’s second acquisition in 10 weeks this morning on Bloomberg TV, revealing that the company has acquired real-time charting and order-book platform RTBTC, renaming the service ZeroBlock.

The transaction was completed entirely in bitcoin – Cary declined to reveal specific transaction details, except that “These deals are getting way bigger and the reason for this is there is so much innovation happening in this space.” Few prices have been revealed in the history of bitcoin company acquisitions, so we’ll largely need to take Cary’s word for it. The largest such deal revealed publicly was the sale of Satoshi Dice for 126,315 bitcoin, then worth approximately $11.5 million.

Cary also noted that the transaction was completed a few weeks ago and thus not subject to market instabilities and uncertainties introduced by Mt. Gox’s rapid failure. Nonetheless, the transaction was structured to avoid market volatility by completing multiple payments over time, much like one might if making an acquisition in euros or another currency.

In Cary’s eyes, the integration of ZeroBlock will position Blockchain as the “Bloomberg of bitcoin,” since the company will offer real-time news and  market data, customized charting, browser-based trading, and other crypto-currency-related services under a single platform. Of course, the key to the Bloomberg empire is its ability to charge astronomical fees for its hardware terminals, something that Blockchain has no answer for currently.

What the company will not offer, at least for now, is a direct exchange service. Rather, it will provide what Cary calls a consolidated order book on top of bitcoin exchanges, similar to the live trading platforms that sit on top of the NASDAQ or NYSE. ZeroBlock is available for a one-day free trial, after which the service costs $20 a month.

It was clear from Cary’s comments on the Bloomberg program that professional traders represent an increasing focus for the company and the acquisition will likely be the first of several. Cary says the bitcoin community is working to disrupt and reinvent a financial industry “desperately in need of innovation.”

Cary had hinted to “exciting news” yesterday on Twitter, contributing, in part, to a market rally that saw bitcoin surge approximately 20 percent, regaining all the value it lost following Mt. Gox’s implosion. The early reaction on bitcoin message boards could be described as, “meh;” then again, the average bitcoin enthusiast isn’t the target. Rather, Blockchain is targeting Wall Street and professional traders with its new offering. We’ll have to reserve judgement until that community votes with its subscription dollars to render a verdict.

It’s still early days for bitcoin, which means volatility as well as regulatory uncertainty. Cary acknowledged this but brushed off concern that they could hamper bitcoin’s long-term success. He compared the crypto-currency ecosystem to the early days of the automobile when there were no on-ramps or off-ramps and people regularly crashed their vehicles. Bitcoin, he believes, will undergo the same sort of maturation and mainstreaminization as cars have over the last century.

Bitcoin has everyone from Silicon Valley to Wall Street to DC in a frenzy over the role it could play in the future economy. As I said following the Mt. Gox debacle, the crypto-currency’s phase of innocence is ending. The next test is whether companies like Blockchain are ready to step up their games and execute at this professional level.

Watch the full interview below: