New Zealand Bitcoin exchange explains government funding “controversy”

New Zealand Government Bitcoin

Reports the New Zealand government invested NZ$315,000 into a local Bitcoin exchange set the internet alight.

There were headlines on both mainstream and blockchain news websites, announcing the taxpayer-funded deal.

But Vimba, the company that was supposedly receiving the money, has issued a statement with a few key clarifications.

“Recently we sent out a press release announcing we had secured a project grant … (and) it stirred up a lot of controversy and opinion,” the statement said.

“We thought we would write a blog post regarding the controversy and the funding from our perspective.”

The statement went on to explain the grant had been received from Callaghan Innovation, a government agency supporting high tech businesses in NZ.

“We decided to apply for a project grant at Callaghan Innovation to be able to develop the above technology. The estimated project cost was $315,000 NZD,” Vimba said.

“Callaghan has no bias in who they approve for funding, the company simply needs to be eligible by meeting their set criteria.”

“As we met the above criteria, Callaghan approved our project grant indicating they will supply 40% of the total estimated cost of our project which was $315,000, this amounts to $126,156 NZD.”

New Zealand Government Bitcoin
A Vimba logo from the company’s website.

Vimba says the money is not just handed over, it is essentially a rebate, and the company has to spend its own money on Research and Development to receive any money back from Callaghan.

“Once released, our press release quickly caught on like wildfire,” Vimba said.

“We had articles in multiple NZ and global news outlets talking about our government funding.

“What was perhaps a poor choice of wording on our press release resulted in the idea that the NZ Government had invested in us like a venture capital firm would invest in a startup.

“As clarified above, this is not the case at all. We simply met the criteria Callaghan set out for any company wishing to get a project grant.

“This ambiguity resulted in some scathing articles and press releases criticising Callaghan Innovation for giving a ‘Bitcoin company’ government funding.”

Vimba says it wanted to make clear that it has been a NZ company for four years and plans to keep being a NZ company.

“We have employed only New Zealand residents, we have paid tax in NZ and we are using this project grant to help grow our company worldwide to employ even more Kiwis and bring more money into NZ,” the company said.

“We are not simply a ‘Bitcoin company,’ we are predominantly a software company, building innovative software for the innovative technology of cryptocurrency.

“We are also not out to make rich people richer or make people overnight millionaires. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. At Vimba, we help everyday Kiwis invest small and limited amounts of money on a weekly basis in cryptocurrency, so that we can all capitalise on the long term upward trend of the crypto markets.

“We have very low spending limits and encourage people to only put in a small amount of money into crypto to diversify their investments.

“Our goal is to open the door that is cryptocurrency to everyone and give them access to this amazing technology, which until recently, has had high barriers of entry.

“We know views on cryptocurrency can be polarised, but we share the view that many people in the world share, including names you may recognise (Bill Gates and Richard Branson to name a few), that Bitcoin is a force for good in this world.

“Our mission is to help those of us who share that view put a small and controlled portion of their investment portfolio in this exciting new asset class.”

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