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Bitcoin isn’t just for buying and selling cupcakes and cameras anymore.
A crop of entrepreneurs, backed by investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and BitAngels, are betting that the technology behind the virtual currency can be used for a range of financial tasks now handled by banks, exchanges, e-commerce providers and other middlemen.
Invictus Innovations, Ripple Labs, and other startups are harnessing Bitcoin’s underlying code for such tasks as authentication, which means making sure that a buyer isn’t posing as someone else, and verification of payments to ensure that a transaction is valid. If successful, the new tools could reduce the fees shouldered by buyers and sellers in the $1.22 trillion global electronic-commerce market, as well in financial services, cloud computing and other areas.