Who’s who in bitcoin remittances (2)

Abra

This California-based company raised $12 million in September 2015 to develop its app.

In a interview, CEO Bill Barhydt explained:

Abra is the world’s first peer-to-peer digital cash money transfer network.That m eans consumers can store and manage money directly on their phone  —  no bank, no financial intermediary  —  and they can transfer money directly to any phone in the world that also has our app on it. Transfers are peer-to-peer, meaning no middleman touches the funds: no bank, no Western Union, nobody.

According to this techcrunch article, the company’s app lets users around the world transfer funds denominated in any currency.

Abra achieves this by instantly converting deposited currency to bitcoin, which are stored locally on the user’s device.

This means that the company never actually touches any funds, meaning it isn’t required to deal with the regulatory issues of transmitting money.

Users can deposit money into the app either via a linked bank account, or by utilizing Abra’s network of Abra Tellers, which are like human ATM machines.

After a user’s account is credited with funds, the money is instantly converted to bitcoin behind the scenes, but still denominated in a traditional currency.

The users are protected from bitcoin’s volatility by Abra making a hedging contract behind the scenes with a counter-party. But all this complexity is transparent to the user, who may never even know that they are sending money via bitcoin.

Coinnect

Coinnect is not exactly a general remittance service, but a point-to-point money transfer service between Argentina and Mexico.

It was set up by two bitcoin exchanges, Argentinas SatoshiTango and Mexico’s Volabit.

If you have a Volabit account and your correspondent in Argentina has a SatoshiTango one (or the other way around), then you can deposit Mexican pesos into yours and send them to the Argentinian account. The recipient will receive Argentinian pesos, but the transfer is done via bitcoin.

Volabit co-founder Tomas Alvarez said in an interview with CoinDesk:

“We believe that bitcoin has huge untapped potential to change international money-sending beyond traditional remittances. Due to the inertia of old habits and trust lacking in new technologies, however, bitcoin services have failed to meaningfully compete against existing services thus far.”

Hive

A recent entrant in the peer-to-peer money transfer market is Spanish startup Bit2Me, which recently has won $10,000 for its remittance app Hive.

Details are scant, but according to Coindesk, Hive is a peer-to-peer app that leverages blockchain technology to enable the transfer of funds between users, who can top-up their accounts with either bitcoin or credit cards.