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5 Bitcoin Remittance Services Africans Can Use

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bitcoin remittance services

In the past, the international remittances market has been dominated by large money transfer operators such as MoneyGram and Western Union. However, that has begun to change with the entry of bitcoin startups that are evening the playing field. With the rise of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, companies are now embracing bitcoin and blockchain technology to improve international remittance services.

In this post, you will discover five bitcoin remittance services that are disrupting the status quo of international money transfers in Africa.

Abra

AbraAbra is an app that uses peer-to-peer technology where the money being transferred goes directly to the recipient with no middlemen involved. Users are able to store money in their mobile wallets through debit cards or an Abra teller.

In addition, the user does not require a bank account to sign up for the service, and he/she can transfer money from his mobile device to countries like Morroco, Gambia, Malawi just to name a few. Using Abra, sending and receiving money is free and you can use the app to buy bitcoin directly. You can check which features of Abra’s app are available in your country here.

BitPesa

BitPesaBitPesa allows entrepreneurs in Africa to make cross-border FX payments. Nairobi-headquartered BitPesa provides a platform for African businesses to send and receive international payments using bitcoin as the in-between currency to lower transaction costs, thus reducing users reliance on slow and expensive bank legacy systems.

In addition, the exchange of African currencies with other international currencies makes it a better alternative to the US dollar as a benchmark currency for foreign exchange.

BitSpark

Hong Kong-based BitSpark has created an end-to-end international money transfer platform that uses blockchain technology to facilitate transactions. The company has recently expanded its services to Nigeria, one of the largest remittance markets in the world with $21 billion in remittances received each year.

BitSparkBitSpark new remittance channel into Nigeria will be 14.4% cheaper than its competitors, thereby offering an excellent blockchain-based alternative to MoneyGram and Western Union for Nigerians.

Remitano

Remitano provides an escrowed peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace where people can trade bitcoin easily and securely. The platform has a simple user interface and offers many payment methods to make bitcoin purchases. Remitano allows you to deposit and withdraw fiat money from almost anywhere in the world.

RemitanoWhat makes Remitano an easy-to-use bitcoin remittance service is that once users receive bitcoin on their Remitano wallets, they can easily convert them into local currency on the peer-to-peer exchange itself.

GeoPay

GeoPayGeopay is a South African peer-to-peer remittance service that runs on the blockchain and enables people living abroad to remit money across borders. Unlike normal banking systems, the company does not require documentation to facilitate cross-border money transfers.

In addition, there is no bank account involved when sending and receiving money. Withdrawals are made from a network of agents, making it the perfect platform for micro-transactions in different parts of Africa. With a 3 percent transfer fee, the company seeks to offer an affordable option to traditional money transfer services like MoneyGram.

Remittances play a big role in the economies of African countries. However, migrant workers sending money home have had to put up with expensive transfer fees from traditional remittance services. Bitcoin and the blockchain are improving this by lowering the transaction fees and increasing the speed of remittances. There is no doubt this is just the beginning for blockchain-powered remittances in Africa and it will be interesting to see what role they will play in the future.

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Bitcoin Wallet Luno Adds SegWit Support to Lower Transaction Fees

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Luno Adds SegWit Support

Luno, one of the most popular bitcoin wallets in Africa, has announced full SegWit integration for bitcoin send and receive transactions. Previously, Luno customers could only receive BTC through a legacy wallet address, which was not integrated with the recent Bitcoin blockchain upgrade SegWit. Only send transactions were SegWit compatible.

With the full integration of SegWit, Luno users can now enjoy cheaper and faster bitcoin transactions.

“By implementing SegWit internally, Luno has managed to reduce the send fees paid by customers by over 25% already. As customers start switching over to new SegWit addresses, this will translate into a further reduction in sending fees in the coming weeks and months,” Werner van Rooyen, head of marketing and communications at Luno stated.

Luno currently operates in South Africa, Nigeria, Malaysia, UK, and in 35 other European countries.

What is SegWit?

Segregated Witness (SegWit) was an upgrade to the Bitcoin blockchain that is intended to address Bitcoin’s scalability challenges as well as fix the issue of transaction malleability. With SegWit, signature data is separated from transaction data in order to enable more transactions to fit into each block. The signature data is kept in an extended block called the witness. As a result, bitcoin transactions become faster and transaction fees become lower.

In theory, the Bitcoin network can handle seven transactions per second. However, in reality, it is around four transactions per second. With the number of bitcoin transactions increasing as bitcoin’s popularity grows, transactions take longer as the unconfirmed transactions pool increases. Therefore, bitcoin users who can afford it have been paying higher transaction fees to incentivise miners to prioritise their transactions and, thereby, increase the speed of their transactions. At the end of 2017, this has led to the average bitcoin transaction fee spiking to over 35 dollars.

However, when SegWit addresses are used, bitcoin transactions become faster and the required resources decrease as well. Consequently, the transaction fees reduce.

How Can You Add a SegWit Wallet Address on Luno?

To add a SegWit address on the Luno wallet you have to follow these steps:

  • Open your Luno account either on the mobile app or the web app
  • Choose “wallets” from the menu
  • Click on your “BTC wallet”
  • Choose “receive bitcoin”
  • Click “add address” and follow the prompt

To receive bitcoin, use your SegWit bitcoin receive address. Legacy bitcoin addresses begin with 1 while SegWit bitcoin addresses begin with 3. Even after adding a SegWit wallet address, bitcoins sent to your previous legacy bitcoin address will still work. In addition, you can still send bitcoin from a SegWit wallet to a legacy wallet and vice versa since the transactions are still taking place on the same blockchain. But if you are sending bitcoins to and from a SegWit wallet, you can benefit from reduced fees.

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Bitmart Opens Cryptocurrency Mining Hardware Store in South Africa

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Bitmart Opens Cryptocurrency Mining Hardware Store

Bitmart, South Africa’s leading supplier of mining hardware, has opened a cryptocurrency mining hardware store in South Africa. This makes Bitmart’s retail outlet the first cryptocurrency mining store in Africa.

Products and Services Offered by Bitmart

Bitmart was founded by CEO Jacques Serfontein in 2015 to offer cryptocurrency mining hardware to South Africans. Currently, Bitmart offers GPU rigs, ASIC miners, GPU rig mining software, graphics cards, international mining rig monitor app, cryptomatic watches, hardware wallets, and motherboards. Customers can find GPU mining rigs that mine cryptocurrencies such as zcash, monero, decred, bitcoin, and litecoin.

Additionally, Bitmart provides services such as bitcoin mining farm design and deployment, mining training, antminer repair tickets, mining farm management using Genesis Hive, and shepherd services.

Through its shepherd services, Bitmart helps owners of second-hand miners to find buyers. Therefore, both sellers and buyers are assured of safe and secure transactions through Bitmart’s SSL-secured online shop.

According to MyBroadband, Bitmart is an authorised distributor of Avalon Miners, Genesis Hive, Trezor, Ledger wallets, KeepKey, and UniSat (satellite mining solutions) in Africa.

The company also supplies mining hardware to countries such as Japan, Dubai, North America, Australia, and England.

What Does Bitmart Plan for the Future?

Bitmart will be holding seminars in Johannesburg and Mbombela. The seminars will focus on bitcoin basics and advanced cryptocurrency trading. In addition, Bitmart will be introducing a satellite mining connection in partnership with Uniwisp that will allow mining rigs to mine from any place in the world. Uniwisp is an Internet service provider based in Nelspruit, South Africa.

 

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Kenya’s BitPesa Acquires Spanish Money Transfer Platform TransferZero

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BitPesa Acquires TransferZero

On February 8, 2018, BitPesa announced that it has acquired TransferZero, a Madrid-based online money transfer platform, which operates in over 200 countries using more than 50 currencies.

Why Did BitPesa Acquire TransferZero?

BitPesa, which is already operating in Africa and Europe, will be able to “set deep roots to UK and European licensing, bank accounts, and integrations” through this acquisition, according to the company’s statement on its blog.

“Europe is a hub for global remittance and payments companies. Digital currencies and decentralized technology have hit critical mass in the financial services and payments space. It is no longer a question of whether this technology will have staying power [but] which specific technology and what product iteration will launch and scale first […],” Elizabeth Rosiello, founder and CEO BitPesa said.

“BitPesa has the support of top-tier, institutional investors and a network that will help to bring TransferZero’s technology to the next level. With this support, we will be able to provide even more efficient transfers and user experience,” Luis Cambronero, former TransferZero CEO and present Managing Director, BitPesa stated.

Setting Up Infrastructure Across Europe and Africa is a Priority

“Setting up infrastructure across Europe and Africa has always been a focus of ours. […] We’ve just doubled our bank accounts, our infrastructure, and it’s licensed by the Bank of Spain as a payment institution. So we are fully compliant with PSD2 regulations […],” Rosiello said.

“This is truly a partnership where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, allowing BitPesa to solidify our leadership in this space. By bringing our regional and technological expertise together, we will further accelerate our month-to-month growth,” Rossiello asserted.

TransferZero will neither change its name nor its headquarters. In addition, its employees will remain with Bitpesa.

This acquisition from an Africa-based bitcoin startup of a European fintech startup shows that leading African startups can make waves beyond the borders of the continent and create a positive impact on a global scale.

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