OpenCoin, Chris Larsen's virtual-currency venture, announced today it has closed funding from several investors, including Bitcoin Opportunity Fund.

OpenCoin is the developer of the Ripple Protocol, a peer-to-peer open source payment system using math-based virtual currency called ripples.

"We believe that Ripple will change the way the world thinks about and uses currency through universal access to a trusted, transparent and easy to understand multi-currency financial tool," says Larsen, CEO of OpenCoin and veteran financial services entrepreneur, in a April 11 press release.

Ripple is similar to the Bitcoin economy in many ways, allowing for free payments in any currency to merchants, developers and consumers, the ability for instant global transfers and no chargebacks.

The Bitcoin Opportunity Fund is an investment vehicle for Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency, and Bitcoin-related companies.

Ripple is not a rival to Bitcoin but instead is "an ecosystem that encompasses Bitcoin and other payment networks," says Larsen.

The Ripple protocol aspires to simplify free global trade, something Bitcoin has struggled with since its creation in 2010.

"Our world has moved into a digital era, and it is time that we embrace a digital currency that can accommodate today's global commerce needs while laying the groundwork for future evolution," says Jed McCaleb, chief technology officer at OpenCoin, in the release. "Now, wherever there is internet, there is Ripple. The future is here."

Other investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Vast Ventures and FF Angel IV.

While Ripple is still in beta, OpenCoin has been more visible, recently acquiring Simple Honey Inc. to work on user experience.

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