Two bitcoin startup executives have joined the leadership team for Uphold, the digital money platform.

Bitnet CEO and co-founder John McDonnell and chief data architect Jiri Novak will become part of a new offering called Uphold Merchant Services, which will aim to provide payment and financing services to businesses that use the Uphold platform. Bitnet was acquired as part of the deal.

The company, formerly known as Bitreserve, was founded by CNET founder Halsey Minor and formally launched in late 2014. The platform later rebranded as Uphold.

McDonnell and Novak join the startup months after Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten acquired Bitnet’s assets. Former Bitnet employees Fergal Downey and Stephen McNamara would go on to become part of a new blockchain lab founded by Rakuten, using the company’s assets to kickstart that effort.

McDonnell, who will serve as CEO of Uphold Merchant Services, said in a statement:

“Uphold is uniquely positioned as the first ‘cloud-based’ financial services platform that leverages the operating efficiencies of blockchain technology while providing access to the legacy bank and payment networks.”

The announcement comes two years after Bitnet announced that it had raised $14.5m in a Series A funding round. That round, led by Highland Capital Partners, notably included participation from Rakuten, and set the stage for the e-commerce company’s eventual acceptance of bitcoin payments.

Image via Shutterstock

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Bitnet. 

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