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31. Coinbase

A bitcoin wallet and exchange service

Brian Armstrong (left) and Fred Ehrsam, founders of Coinbase
Source: Coinbase
Brian Armstrong (left) and Fred Ehrsam, founders of Coinbase

Founders: Brian Armstrong, Fred Ehrsam
Date launched: 2012
Funding: $106 million
Industries disrupted: Financial services, e-commerce, investing

Coinbase may allow people to use virtual currency, but the company is good at raising actual money. In January the company that operates an online service that allows users to buy bitcoin—the virtual currency—store it in a digital wallet and pay merchants with it, raised $75 million. Among the investors: the New York Stock Exchange, BBVA (a large multinational bank), along with personal investments from former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit and former Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer.

Read MoreFULL LIST: 2015 DISRUPTOR 50

The company—which bills itself as the closest thing to a bitcoin central bank—claims that this is the first time that financial institutions have made a major investment in a bitcoin company. It brings Coinbase's total funding to $106 million. The company was started by Fred Ehrsam, a former Goldman Sachs trader; and Brian Armstrong, a former engineer at Airbnb. Coinbase makes money by charging users a 1 percent fee to convert dollars into and out of bitcoin. Merchants like it because the fees are less than what they pay to process most credit card transactions.

Bitcoin itself still contends with headlines linking it with criminal activity, but that hasn't stopped Coinbase from creating 2.8 million consumer wallets signing up 39,000 merchants to date.

"This [bitcoin] network now does something that was never possible before. It removes the necessity of a third party in a transaction." -Fred Ehrsam, co-founder

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