A lot of smart people have been saying it for a while now : BItcoin could gain massive adoption by gaining a foothold in developing countries. Beam, which is an accra-based company allowing Africans to send money cheap and instantaneous, publicly stated there is a huge demand for Bitcoins in Ghana.
Ghana ia an underdeveloped country, with a rather low level of sophistication when it comes to their financial model. Most people living in Ghana don’t even have access to a bank account, and even if you do have one, the fees are simply outrageous.
“For example, it is very difficult for locals to buy stuffs on Amazon, It is also really hard for someone in United Kingdom to pay a freelancer in Ghana. You need to have a bank account, do a bank transfer. You need to pay fees and it takes a long time. You may not be willing to go through the hassles. But with Bitcoin you can make transactions and payment on all the major platforms and transfer funds either directly with Bitcoins or they have an overlay that allows you to use Bitcoins.”
-Falk Benke – CTO of Beam
A private beta will begin later this month allowing people to send money (using Bitcoin) to Ghana. The idea is to residents from the United Kingdom to send a Bitcoin transaction to Beam, who will in turn convert the Bitcoin to Ghana Cedis , and the Ghanese recipient would be paid out instantly via mobile money.
The current money remittance market in Ghana is dominated by Western Union, as well as several similar companies. Beam will try to convince the population of the cost effectiveness Bitcoin brings to the table, compared to money remittance companies. If you have ever used Western Union to send money anywhere in the world, you know they have quite a high fee consisting of both hidden and revealed charges.
“For us, we are local, we are on the ground and we are focusing for now on UK to Ghana and it would enable us to be closer to our customers and find out the best medium because we have a lot of stuff going on in Ghana’s mobile money market and a lot of online wallets that cater for the unbanked.”
-Falk Benke – CTO of Beam
Mr. Benke was also so kind as to offer us a bit more details on how a Beam transaction would work :
“I encourage everyone to go to beamremit.com starting from October 1, the prerequisite is you have Bitcoins. You will enter account details including address for compliance reasons. You enter the amount of cedes you want to send and we will give you the Bitcoin equivalence you have to pay. You will see a checkout page. If you have a smartphone you can easily scan the QR code and the Bitcoins would be transferred to our wallet.”
Furthermore, he gave us a bit more information on how long the transaciton would take to complete :
“Once we receive confirmation that the Bitcoins have been transferred, we could roll out the payment to the recipient through mobile money. Once we are fully automated, this process would take less than a minute but for the beta, there are processes involved so it would take less than 10 minutes. But in the long run it has to be almost instant once we are fully automated.”
Website : http://beamremit.com