Miami mobile-payment startup BlueKite 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, co-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. 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 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, said Vargas, who also co-founded, acquired by Livedoor Ltd., and BrokersWeb, acquired by VantageMedia, among others.

Xoom CEO John Kunze said the acquisition allows Xoom to offer adjacent services to their burgeoning money transfer offerings in 31 countries. Aitkenhead, former CEO of BlueKite, will report to Kunze as vice president in charge of Xoom Bill Pay and Xoom Top Up. Through Xoom, based in San Francisco, more than one million active customers sent more than $5.5 billion to family and friends in 2013.

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