Bitcoin startup Caricoin recently announced the launch of a social mobile money platform for the Caribbean.
UK-based Caricoin has released a mobile wallet in collaboration with leading Blockchain security company, BitGo, which will provide Caribbean users with the ability to send and receive money where traditional banking is limited. The wallet combines elements of social messaging platforms with payment via Bitcoin, allowing senders and receivers to talk to each other with the option to top-up mobile phones with prepaid minutes within the Caribbean.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Karsten Becker, Caricoin CEO, said that the mobile wallet was designed as a substitute to traditional banking, where, according to the World Bank 2015 Global Findex Report, around 50% of the population is unbanked.
“Access to banks is hard for most of the population especially for people living in rural areas. Even harder than actually getting to banks is the process of signing up for an account due to an out-dated KYC [Know-Your-Customer] process and strict regulations.”
Big potential for Bitcoin in Jamaica
Becker said that there was a large need in Jamaica for a mobile money platform that would provide easy access to digital bill payments and incoming remittances. Despite the fact that Jamaica has extremely high smart phone coverage, people still have to travel large distances at a great cost to pay their bills, with payment companies taking large cuts of the money.
“Jamaica is unique in that over 80% of people have smartphones and 4g coverage along with very low cost data plans, so we hope to see more and more people coming on board as the ecosystem starts to grow.”
Of course, with the right marketing and access to mobile phones with data, Becker believes that anything is possible with people signing up in remote areas to take advantage of a system that allows them to access Bitcoins so that they can use them.
“Our goal was to try to get a platform to market which could help people with these problems and that, at the same time, could be used across the Caribbean. Bitcoin provides the perfect platform to do this since it is a currency which can be used in any country, is safe and secure, and works well on mobile devices.”
How to use Caricoin wallet
Unlike opening a traditional bank account, which may take days to open as a result of KYC regulations, the Caricoin wallet allows anyone to open an account straightaway and to make digital deposits.
“The wallet is very easy to install and to get started with as the entire process will take the average user about 30 seconds. We have focused on using mobile numbers for authentication, so users don’t need email accounts.”
Extra layers of security have also been added for people who wish to use it by giving them the ability to link their email or Facebook account after they are up and running. Becker said that the company hopes to add the option to adding a person’s drivers licence or other official forms of identification using the phone’s camera in future releases to make the process even easier.
Additionally, Caricoin is working on developing a zero-cost remittance feature within the wallet. According to a World Bank Report, remittance fees in the Caribbean amount to more than $800 million each year. When it’s activated, the Caribbean community working elsewhere can send money back home without having to pay a fee to do so.
“We hope to stimulate the adoption of mobile money across the Caribbean by allowing people to send funds home without fees,” Becker said. “While this is a dream and has a long way to go as most people have no idea what Bitcoin is or how to use it, we hope that by building a mobile wallet which caters to the needs to people in the Caribbean, it will accelerate this process.”