Feb 14, · The status quo in the digital segment of the remittance market undoubtedly creates opportunities for decentralized cryptocurrencies as well. Transaction fees in the case of bitcoin cash (BCH), for example, are less than a cent per transfer. Jan 26, · The continuous birth of new bitcoin-based, remittance-focused startups brings to light the opportunity of serving this market with a cryptocurrency alternative to the traditional networks. One of the most routinely cited use cases for bitcoin is in the international remittance market – the financial sector worth over $bn a year that specializes in facilitating transactions.
Bitcoin remittance marketWhy Bitcoin Faces an Uphill Battle in the Remittance Market
Coincove is not considered a money business in Mexico, but it is following the guidelines as a preemptive measure, Alvarez says. Due to these steps, he says his group is now working with domestic payment processors and banks. The foremost reason Brown suggests bitcoin remittance businesses will struggle is because of the different ways digital currencies are being approached by regulators. Due to these differences, Brown says, regulators will not provide bitcoin remittance businesses with the free reign they may need to innovate.
Alvarez echoed this danger. Coincove is now operating in Latin America, due in part to its slow response on digital currency regulation, providing it exactly this testing ground.
However, as an early market entrant, he sees an opportunity to influence regulation through eventual dialogue in these countries. Brown acknowledged that companies that facilitate remittances between certain lucrative markets may be the most likely to take hold, provided the legislative framework is complementary, and so far Coincove provides evidence to this claim.
However, as Alvarez indicates, it still finds itself locked out of the US, the largest sender of remittances, so such arrangements are inherently limiting to the expansion of his business.
Llanos was more optimistic than Brown, noting that technology always outpaces regulation and that, although there will be challenges ahead, bitcoin can find a way to overcome them. Still, he mentioned similar challenges to those cited up by Brown, indicating that both Western Union and a new bitcoin remittance startup with no customers and no volume, would still be expected to meet the same licensing and anti-money laundering requirements. With the right know-how and resources, he says, licensing can be achieved, but the inability to obtain banking services is yet another hurdle.
However, Llanos suggested that the entire financial industry — from remittance to prepaid card providers, is facing these challenges:. The regulatory pressures they themselves are under and the business case do not always justify taking the risk of banking this class of business.
Furthermore, even once banks get on board, liquidity is another obstacle — due in part to the nature of the markets in which remittance businesses operate. Llanos explained:. Of course, given that bitcoin can be transmitted freely by users without boundaries, it remains unclear exactly what function bitcoin remittance businesses would provide consumers.
Alvarez, however, disagrees with this notion. He believes bitcoin remittance companies will be essential, especially in the early stages, as there is very little overlap between his target market and current bitcoin users. Firms capitalise on soaring mobile phone use to offer cheaper, quicker cash transfers, but some are wary of the digital currency.
Soaring rates of mobile phone use in developing countries are helping the entrepreneurs compete with more usual forms of money transfer in countries where remittance rates and fees are highest. Bitcoin could also cut the time it takes to send remittances. Just sent in bitcoin: Immediate, free. The prospect of using bitcoin for remittances is proving attractive.
In December, the firm Dahabshiil won a temporary injunction to keep its account open. Since inception, bitcoin has been the designer currency of choice for the criminally inclined.