BitPay, an Atlanta-based company that processes payments in the digital currency Bitcoin, said it secured $30 million in venture capital funding.

The investment round led by Geneva-based Index Ventures includes participation from Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Group Ltd., Founders Fund and AME Cloud Ventures, the fund of Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, according to a statement on Index Ventures’ website.

BitPay, whose investment is the largest announced to date in a Bitcoin startup, processes $1 million per day in bitcoin payments for over 30,000 merchants, half of whom are in the U.S. with another 30 percent in Europe. BitPay and San Francisco- based Coinbase are among the two largest processors of bitcoin- denominated transactions.

"By enabling thousands of merchants to accept payment in bitcoins quickly, safely and seamlessly, BitPay is already the proven and trusted winner in this space," Jan Hammer, an Index Ventures partner, said in a statement posted on the website.

Bitcoin is a software protocol that was created anonymously in 2009 under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoins are traded like commodities, and promoted by backers as a currency, which can now be used to buy food, clothing and even luxury houses.

Hammer said that Bitcoin’s value "as an investment asset or a traded commodity -- rather like the publicity surrounding it -- may ebb and flow." The infrastructure that enables the use of digital currency, however, is "fast becoming a critical part of the Internet’s own infrastructure."

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