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Peter Vessenes and Mike Koss (Erynn Rose photo)

A group of Seattle entrepreneurs is forging ahead into the uncertain and intriguing world of Bitcoin with a new center for incubating projects and potential businesses involving the digital currency.

Called CoinLab, it’s the creation of Peter Vessenes, Mike Koss and Tihan Seale, housed inside the StartPad co-working space that Koss oversees in downtown Seattle. In addition to pursuing projects of their own, they’ve allocated funds for additional desks at StartPad in hopes of finding other entrepreneurs and developers interested in working alongside them on Bitcoin projects.

“There isn’t really anywhere that’s the ‘Place for Bitcoin,’ and that’s what we hope to be,” Vessenes said this week.

Tihan Seale

Vessenes and Koss have been kicking this idea around for a few months now, and had planned on pursuing the incubator in collaboration with a Bitcoin developer from China who goes by the name of Dr. Nefario. However, Nefario was prevented from entering the U.S. when he couldn’t convince customs agents at the Seattle airport that he could fund his planned two-month visit using Bitcoin.

CoinLab already has its first project, dubbed Bitsent, for sending Bitcoin via text message. Their sites promises “a lot more in the works.”

The volatility and complexity of the Bitcoin system  has generated plenty of skepticism, as reflected in this post by the NYT’s Paul Krugman earlier this month.

Vessenes is more optimistic about the potential for the digital currency, as he explained when he appeared with Koss on the GeekWire radio show and podcast last month.

“So you have to ask yourself … if there is a currency that can trade around the world, it’s semi-anonymous, it’s instant, it’s not controlled by government or bank, what’s the total value of that currency?” he said at the time. “To me, the answer to that is, if it works, it’s gotta be in the billions.”

Vessenes said this week that he meets “fewer skeptics than you might think.”

Previously: Listen to the GeekWire radio interview with Koss and Vessenes from last month.

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