Bitcoin has the advantage of almost instant payment by means of peer to peer technology. Bitcoin transfers are generally completed in minutes regardless of the location of the two parties. This is in addition to the presence of the public ledger that ensures both transparency and trustworthiness.
As a result of the growing Bitcoin Momentum, an ecosystem of support is quickly evolving to support the digital currency. Many new companies are: “building exchanges, trading and payment platforms, wallets, and storage and remittance services.” Currently, the trading volume stands at, circa, 65,000, and the amount of Bitcoins in circulation is around 13 million. Giving an approximated Bitcoin value of $590, that accounts for an estimated transaction value of $8 billion.
As shoppers, worldwide, become more familiar with the concepts that support Bitcoin, the level of confidence within developing markets, such as many African countries, is even greater. The consumers are familiar with the use of other cash free payment solutions, such as M-Pesa’s mobile money are already popular. Ms. Wang reports that: “ in A recent survey by mobile payment company Jana, over half of respondents from Asia and Africa expressed confidence in investing in Bitcoin. Consumer confidence is especially high in Kenya, home of M-Pesa, and 74 percent of Kenyan respondents said they would feel comfortable investing in digital currency.”
The World’s first Bitcoin exchange, Vietnam’s VBTC, continues to offer a wide range of trading services, including multi signature wallets and BTC storage. The high rate of inflation in Vietnam makes Bitcoin an attractive alternative to the national currency. VBTC remains extremely bullish on the future potential of digital currency within Southeast Asia.
BTC China, one of the world’s largest digital exchanges provides both trading services and exchange services. BTC China also offers their customers a wallet app, Picasso. The PBOC has acted to restrict the transfer of bitcoins within China.
The World Bank estimates that remittance flow, or the amount of money sent home by economic emigrants, hit $414 billion in 2013 and is projected to peak at $540 billion by 2016. As Bitcoin becomes increasingly better known and easier to acquire, a migrant population can complete international transfers via a technology that is faster and cheaper than more traditional methods such as banks and Western Union.
Kenya-based Bitpesa serves the African migrant community in the UK and charges a remittance service at only 3% per transaction. By contrast, Western Union and banks often charge transfer fees of between 9 and 20 percent. PayPal, a popular and relatively inexpensive transfer method in developed countries, is not available in Kenya.
The Argentinian payment processor, BitPago, which targets Latin America, charges 5% to process transfer payments. Another South-American payment processor, Moneero, has a facility to allow Bitcoin payments and offers secure wallet services.
Approximately 80% of Bitcoin trading takes place from Dollar accounts but China’s volume rose from 0.4 percent in 2012 to 4.7 percent in 2014. BTC-e, one of the World’s top trading and transfer platforms, is based in Bulgaria.
As Bitcoin usage continues to increase, it is apparent that the future of the digital currency, at least in the medium term, seems somewhat assured.
Disclosure: The writer has a very small holding of Bitcoin, less than $1,000. Featured image by Shutterstock.