BitPesa: Improving money remittance in Africa with Bitcoin

What is Bitpesa?

Bitpesa is an African Bitcoin exchange and a Blockchain technology firm based in Nairobi, Kenya. Founded in 2013, it is mainly a remittance service which allows users to exchange BTC for Kenyan Shillings. Since mobile money is a growing business in Africa, the Bitcoin exchange allows users across and outside of the country to send Bitcoin to Africa through the recipient’s phone number and the recipient will receive Shillings in return.

Bitpesa’s target customers are importers and exporters, freelancers and developers and other growing businesses in the country. The company advertises easy sending and collecting business payments from Africa to the rest of the world and vice versa.

Registration is easy which only requires user’s full name and email address. Users are then required to verify their identity by uploading a scanned document ID. If you are a business user, you will be required to register your business by uploading a scanned copy of your incorporation document and provide the address of your registered corporate. The identity verification proves that Bitpesa is aware and concerned about possible financial losses and frauds to their clients. Users are not allowed to make any transactions on the website without him or her complete the verification process. It usually takes up to 5 business days for the account to be validated.

Bitpesa Today

October last year, Bitpesa started to focus more on money transfers between Africa and China. According to the World Bank, trades between Africa and China reached more than $170 billion in the year 2013, yet the cost of sending payments to and from stays high and takes long days to settle on the other end. Also, according to Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO of Bitpesa in an interview with coinidol.com, 95% of all the trade volumes to Nigeria and East Africa are from China. These include raw materials and finished products for manufacturers and dealers of consumer electronics in Africa.

Bitpesa took this opportunity and offered businesses a low-cost, instant payment system which allows direct transfers from local bank accounts to Chinese bank accounts. Also, businesses are now able to make easy payments to their employees, suppliers, and distributors without the use of cash or US dollars as a middle currency. The service lowered down hugely the expensive cost of transaction fees and eased money transfers without any unnecessary delays.

The money involved in B2B payments are significant amounts and security is one of the major concerns of their clients. Bitpesa, like other Bitcoin exchanges, offers security features such as identity verification and multiple-factor authentication. Also, as per Fred Fedynyshyn, the Chief Legal and Compliance Officer of Bitpesa, in his interview with coinidol, the use of the Blockchain technology secures the data in the system and they have a team of highly skilled technicians and ethical hackers to make the whole system secure and safe from any malicious attack.

Bitcoin adoption is rapidly growing in Africa and Bitpesa is one of the major startups that lead the way. Other information about Bitcoin in Africa can be found in this article: Bitcoin momentum rapidly growing in Africa.

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