Virtual Bitcoin vault raises $20 million in fudning

Xapo, a provider of secure online storage for Bitcoins, has raised $20 million in a first round of funding led by venture capital firm Benchmark. Ribbit Capital, a Silicon Valley venture firm that invests in technologies for financial services, and Fortress Investment Group , a New York-based private-equity and hedge-fund manager, participated in the round.

One of the reason bitcoins get so much attention is because people keep stealing them. Every week it seems that another “secure” wallet service gets plundered by tech-savvy thieves. That’s one of the appeals of Xapo, a startup that just received a $20 million investment to build out its secure, insured “vault” for bitcoins. I signed up for Xapo on Thursday to check it out, and to see about its “free bitcoin” offer for new customers. Alas, it turns out the giveaway only amounts to 0.00005 of a bitcoin — or, if you prefer, 5,000 satoshis (the currency’s smallest unit) — which adds up to about 3 cents as of Thursday. But even though the free satoshis aren’t worth your time, the company’s “vault” claims are still pretty cool.

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