M-Pesa Rival Bitpesa Unveils Pilot of Bitcoin Remittance Service in Kenya
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Kenya’s BitPesa has launched a pilot or beta version of its solution which allows diaspora Kenyans to send money back home with ease and at affordable rates.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the start-up launched a pilot remittance program involving about 15 Kenyans in London, who can begin using BitPesa to send money back home. If it works, and spreads, it promises to lower the billions currently spent on transfer fees and its founders hope, maybe even spark a tech boom in Kenya.
BitPesa is the brainchild of Duncan Goldie-Scot and Elizabeth Rossiello, With Ms. Rossiello acting as CEO, the company has raised $700,000 so far, and its investors include Barry Silbert, founder of CEO of the private asset exchange Second Market, and Joe Mucheru, who runs Google’s East Africa operations; Mr. Mucheru’s investment is a personal one.
“There’s a lot of talk about the impact of bitcoin around the world,” Mr. Silbert said. “This is the company that’s actually executing, that’s setting up the model.”
BitPesa’s idea was to focus initially on one “corridor” for remittances the U.K. and Kenya. The company sent its people out to the Kenyan cafes, to meet locals and build up its small group of beta testers. They will begin with about 15 users, and expand over the summer.