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Venture capitalist acquires US$19 mil. in bitcoins for use in unstable markets

SAN FRANCISCO--Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper is betting that bitcoins will bring more financial stability to countries with shaky economies, even though the digital currency faces an uncertain future itself.

The financier revealed Wednesday that he snapped up nearly 30,000 bitcoins in a recent U.S. government auction and plans to trade them on a platform catering to markets looking for alternatives to their own volatile currencies.

Unlike most forms of money, bitcoins aren't backed by any government. Bitcoins also provide their owners with anonymity and enable transactions that can be completed over the Internet without the involvement of banks. That has turned bitcoins into a financial vehicle for money laundering and illegal drug sales, too.

Draper prevailed over 44 other bidders registered for the auction, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. The price he paid isn't being revealed, but the bitcoins currently have a market value of about US$19 million.

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