Why Bitcoin Remittance Services Should Leave the ‘Bitcoin’ Part Out

The sister cities of Hong Kong and Macau currently house more than 200,000 migrant Filipinos between them.
The breakdown is fairly homogenous in terms of occupation: the largest group consists of 160,000 Filipinas working on Foreign Domestic Helper visas on the Hong Kong side, with a little under 17,000 on the Macau side.
Together, thlective wages.
The remittane two groups transferred over $380m back to their families in the Philippines in 2013, amounting to between 30% and 40% of their colces industry has become something of an obsession of mine over this last year, as we have begun the long process of thoroughly educating ourselves on the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) situation around the world and rolled out our bitcoin remittance service.
There’s an oft-touted statistic when discussing the ‘global remittance challenge’ that I love sharing: in 2014, an estimated $436bn will be remitted around the world by migrant workers, and $47bn of that will be spent on transaction fees.
It’s a great soundbite, because it’s so startling. $47bn! That’s five times India’s education budget, 14x South Africa’s healthcare budget, and the entire GDP of Kenya.
“Surely, there is something we can do about this,” I naively thought, at the start of this process.
It was a staggering proportion of remitted funds lost to the (arbitrary?) costs of transmission and, in my mind, that constituted the proverbial industry that was ripe for disruption. Of course, it’s never as simple as that. There is, after all, a huge difference between the possibility of disruption and the ripeness thereof.
Upon closer inspection, in fact, it appears as if the remittances industry is being quasi-disrupted on a fairly regular basis.

This post was published at Coin Desk on December 7, 2014.

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