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BlueKite, a cross-border payment startup, is acquired

BlueKite, a Miami technology startup that created a proprietary cross border payment platform  allowing people to safely and accurately pay utility bills from abroad, has been acquired by Xoom Corp., a publicly traded digital money transfer provider, for $15 million in cash and equity.

BlueKite, founded by Bobby Aitkenhead, Jose Vargas and Matias de Tezanos, sprouted from the desire to apply technology to improve financial services in emerging markets, particularly for the unbanked or under-banked populations in Latin America, said Vargas, a serial entrepreneur in technology.  With BlueKite’s platform, immigrants could better control the hard-earned money they send to their loved ones abroad, as well as help their families avoid the hassles of paying bills locally where payment centers are not easily accessible, particularly in rural areas, he said.

“The project was very technology intensive because we built, and continued to enhance, a core API that is capable of “hooking up” to billers' accounting systems on a large and very efficient scale, while also processing, in real time, balance and payment requests,”  said Vargas (pictured here), who co-founded MailCreations.com, acquired by Livedoor Ltd., Healthcare.com and BrokersWeb, acquired by VantageMedia, among others.

The company was founded in 2012 and had grown to  36 employees -- in Miami, Guatemala, where the main development takes place, Philippines and Kuala Lumpur. BlueKite had already built a strong presence in Latin America and offered services in hundreds of stores in Florida, Vargas said.

Xoom said the acquisition allows Xoom to offer adjacent services to their burgeoning money transfer offerings. “We're excited to build out bill pay and top-up services and enlarge and strengthen the Xoom team with our new development center in Guatemala City. This development center will also augment our San Francisco product and development efforts," said John Kunze, president and CEO for Xoom.

BobbyAitkenhead, CEO of BlueKite and pictured here, will report to Kunze as vice president in charge of Xoom Bill Pay and Xoom Top Up. "Xoom's online and mobile platforms are disrupting traditional forms of money transfer, and we are thrilled to be part of the Xoom team," said Aitkenhead. Initial product services will be announced later this year.

Xoom, headquartered in San Francisco, provides digital money transfer services in 31 countries. During 2013, Xoom's more than one million active customers sent more than $5.5 billion to family and friends.