Kenyan remittance service BitPesa in beta

In April, the think tank Overseas Development Institute reported that Africanslose out on $1.8 billion every year to remittance transfer fees.

That is enough money to “provide safe water to 21 millionpeople,” the organization said.

BitPesais looking to severely disrupt that industry in Kenya.

Last week, the company announced it had begun beta testingits service.

BitPesa works like this: A user anywhere in the world(except the US at the moment) can send any number of bitcoins to a recipient inKenya via BitPesa, which will convert that money to local currency (with a 3%commission) and send it on to the recipient.

With no hidden charges or additional fees, BitPesa wouldmake sending money back to Kenya three to six times cheaper than viatraditional international money senders.

Why Kenya

Kenya as a nation was way ahead of the rest of the worldwhen it came to mobile payments.

This time last year, two-thirds of Kenyans were usingM-PESA, a mobile currency along which passed 25% of the country’s grossnational product, according to The Economist.

“Paying for a taxi ride using your mobile phone is easier inNairobi than it is in New York,” that publication wrote.

M-PESA is not a blockchain technology, but it is a familiartechnology to Kenyans.

“Everybody has a phone,” BitPesa CEO Elizabeth Rossiellotold CP-Africa. “You’re on a boat in the IndianOcean with the fishermen, and they’re checking their text messages.”

Coincidentally, Western Union tweeted this the same day BitPesaannounced its beta testing.

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