Hong Kong-based Bitspark has just announced the world’s first end-to-end cash remittance service that’s transferred via Bitcoin using ReBit. The service caters to Hong Kong’s large population of Filipinos who regularly use services like Western Union and Money Gram to send funds back to the Philippines.
“The benefits of Bitcoin shouldn’t only be exclusive to tech savvy individuals!”
So reads Bitspark’s blog post announcing their new remittance service. That’s because Bitspark isn’t doing anything that individuals can’t do themselves. Anyone can send Bitcoin to anyone else in the world. But in a time when cryptocurrency is still highly unfamiliar to many, Bitspark is taking the need for technical know-how out of the equation of sending money overseas.
- Bitspark CEO George Harrap sets up shop to send remittances to the Philippines from Hong Kong’s World-Wide Plaza shopping center.
Just how big is the Filipino remittance market? ReBit reports that “the Philippines is the second largest recipient for remittances in Asia with a total of US$23 billion transferred in 2013.”
The service works like this: Bitspark provides a form that asks how much money you want to send (in Hong Kong dollars) to the Philippines, and into which bank account you’d like the newly converted Filipino pesos deposited. You’re then asked to provide a cell phone number for your recipient, who will receive a text when their money is ready, usually within 24 hours.
Bitspark offers pickups at over 30 bank locations in the Philippines, and uses Bitcoin to transmit the value end-to-end. The conversion chain goes Hong Kong dollars→Bitcoin→Filipino pesos.
Bitspark made quite a splash last week when they set up a booth for the first time at the highly-trafficked World-Wide Plaza, a shopping center where many Filipinos go to utilize Western Union and Money Gram. Nestled right next to these legacy services, which charge relatively high fees, Bitspark reports attracting a total audience of over 400 people in just one day, many of whom became their newest clients.
- Bitspark COO Maxine Ryan [right], with the company’s first remittance customer Ms. Camara [left], who sent the largest amount that day (HKD$10,000/ PHP$57,950)
Bitspark reports that their Hong Kong-Philippines remittance service is the “third product launch from Bitspark in three months, joining Bitspark Exchange and the Bitspark’s Sparkpool mining pool. New features are rolled out on a weekly basis and new services are to arrive in the coming months.”
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