U.S. HQed Abra, a digital currency startup which helps in peer-to-peer money transfers via its platform has announced that Tata Group Chairman Emeritus – Ratan Tata and American Express have made an undisclosed investment in the company’s just concluded Series A round of funding.

Along with the announcement of funding, the firm also announced their entry into the online, digital cash-based merchant payments. Abra’s app will be available to all registered users in the US and Philippines in the coming weeks. It will expand to more countries later.

The app enables users to store money digitally on their phone, send that money to any phone number in the world and then, using a network of Abra tellers or traditional bank routes, exchange that digital money for cash. It claims that the users will be able to use the service without knowing (or even seeing) any of the complexities of bitcoin and the Blockchain.

Abra’s new merchant services feature will enable merchants, who adds the Abra Merchant API to its web or mobile app, to accept payments from customers by simply typing in their phone number at checkout.

The company was founded in 2014 by Bill Barhydt, James Robinson and Peter Kelly. In its Series A round of funding, the company has raised $12 million from Arbor Ventures, RRE Ventures, and First Round Capital.

The strategic investment from Ratan Tata and American Express is a part of the Series A round, but the company has not disclosed their investment amount. Prior to the Series A round, the company had raised $2 Million in a seed round.

Bill Barhydt, co-founder of the company, said,

Abra has gone very, very deep to make sure that all those integrated user experiences are working correctly. We’re really excited that it’s all come together after over a year and a half of hard work to put all the pieces together. And we’ll be turning on more countries as we go.

Harshul Sanghi, American Express Ventures’ Managing Partner, said,

As people and businesses transact more globally, there’s a need for more convenient and affordable ways to move money, and we think the blockchain could play an important role in the evolution of money transfer and commerce, especially in emerging markets.

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