Can you send money across borders instantly at almost no cost? Robert Genito of Wall of Coins thinks peer-to-peer Bitcoin exchanges could revolutionize the cross-border remittance industry.
Cross-border remittances to friends and family account for a significant chunk of economic activity, especially among undocumented immigrants.
The undocumented living in the United States sent an estimated $26 billion in 2014 to Mexico alone, underscoring the high demand for a method of transferring wealth internationally with as little paperwork involved as possible.
What is Wall of Coins
Wall of Coins, a service for the peer-to-peer private trading of Bitcoin, has the ability to provide an extremely cheap and simple form of remittances.
The functionality of Wall of Coins involves matching Bitcoin buyers and sellers securely and anonymously.
A seller signs up with their bank and account number (or even MoneyGram account), as well as an SMS-capable phone. The seller then sets a rate and sends Bitcoin into an escrow account.
A buyers can then deposit money into the seller’s bank account. Once the deposit is confirmed, the Bitcoin is released to the buyer. All this is done privately, with individual buyers and sellers never directly interacting or identified.
What this effectively means is anyone with a mobile phone and a bank/MoneyGram account can receive Bitcoin from anywhere in the world and have it show up as local currency in their account.
Wall of Coins recently expanded support the United Kingdom and Mexico, the latter of which profits enormously from remittances.
Cryptocurrency and remittances in Latin America
Cointelegraph spoke with Robert Genito, CEO of Genitrust and owner of Wall of Coins, about the potential for peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading to act as a revolutionary remittance method, as well as cryptocurrency’s usefulness in cross-border transactions
Cointelegraph: How big are remittances in Latin America?
Robert Genito: Good question...I don't know about Latin America itself. Apparently the remittance industry itself is a $500 billion industry. Half a trillion! “Money” is one of the top tools in our society.
CT: Why does cryptocurrency make sense from a remittance angle? As in, why do it through cryptocurrency, and not just services like Western Union?
RG: Crypto is direct, it doesn't have store hours, and it's private. The privacy is good if you're concerned about getting robbed with cash on you, or if you or a friend has ever been a victim of police profiling to civil asset forfeiture. Crypto cuts out a lot of work for one sending money and the one receiving money.
Wasn't there a story of a Mexican guy who saved up all of his money in the USA, and when he went back to Mexico, all of his money was confiscated? That's a huge bummer. When you're using cryptocurrency as a tool, you can effortlessly eliminate that possibility.
Fees and transaction times
CT: Wall of Coins recently started functionality in Mexico. If I understand that correctly, does that mean anyone can sell Bitcoin and have the funds show up in a Mexican bank account?
RG: And anyone anywhere (just like the nature of Bitcoin itself) can send Bitcoin to their relatives' advertisement, which basically sends cash to their bank account, cash account, store credit account, whichever.
CT: That sounds seamless compared with traditional remittance services like Western Union. How do the fees and transaction times match up?
RG: There's no clear cut answer yet, I'll be honest. only our data will tell over time, where we can say, "If 10% of these lowest priced sales were for remittance purposes", etc. Keep in mind: Wall of Coins does NOT market itself as a remittance company.
However, that only inspires the entrepreneur [reader] who wants to market their own website and leverage our business by using our business interface for the entrepreneur's developers (our "API").
What I'm saying is here are the possibilities when using Wall of Coins as a remittance:
- The person you send money to could end up with more value than they started
- The person you send money to can willingly receive more value than the original amount.
- If you get paid in Bitcoin for your work, you already have 0 fees.
"How do transaction times match up?" I will bet that one day the transaction times will be just as fast. People who are using Wall of Coins to send Bitcoin to their bank account (or even to their MoneyGram account! Which is great if you're unbanked) can get cash to their account IMMEDIATELY when they are selling at market value.
And hey, if you're sending money to someone that has local shops that accept Bitcoin? You can bypass getting paper cash entirely.
Authorities, trust and international customers
CT: Do you think being able to send funds across borders privately and instantly can cause some blowback from government authorities?
RG: I don't think it will cause much blowback. Maybe, but I truly believe it is an opportunity for everyone, including governments and financial institutions. It makes government currencies less useful. In the mindset of capitalism and competition, this is great, right? The world bankers better step up their game and upgrade their product!
CT: Some potential international customers might be a little bit nervous about just sending Bitcoin into the nether and having it come out in a bank account in another country. Have you had any difficulty in getting people to trust this service?
RG: Yes, definitely. People who are unfamiliar with Wall of Coins do believe that it's too good to be true. It's super simple. Trust has always been work. And that's OK, we're fine with that.
A lot of people that broke through the trust barrier were happily relieved, and we're very happy about it. We're very grateful for the confidence that our buyers and sellers have in our service.
They've even given nicknames and special phrases to other Bitcoin marketplaces and exchanges. It goes deep. People will even find out we work for Genitrust and add us on Facebook, for example.