Centbee has been on the frontline of the Bitcoin SV (BSV) revolution in the African continent, and during the recently held CoinGeek Seoul Conference, the founder and CEO Lorien Gamaroff broke down how BSV is transforming international remittance.
For Centbee, venturing from a simple BSV wallet into the fastest and most affordable remittance company in Africa was necessitated by the prevailing conditions in the continent. The company is based in South Africa, Africa’s economic giant. With the country having more opportunities than its peers, it receives millions of job seekers every year. These people need to send money back home, but the available options are either slow or quite expensive, usually both. Gamaroff explained:
It’s well-known that in Africa, it has the most expensive cross border remittance corridors. But not only that, there are all sorts of barriers, from the high costs, the complexity around actually moving that money – filling in the forms, and we have a lot of undocumented people living around there.
While there are fintech firms that have tried to solve the challenges, they run into the same challenges sooner or later as they depend on the same banks they try to replace.
Only Bitcoin can solve this challenge, and with this realization, Centbee has been on a quest to transform the remittance sector in Africa. But first, the company had to solve the foremost challenge: making the acquiring of Bitcoin SV easy and accessible across South Africa. This it achieved through the use of the voucher system, an onboarding method that has received praise for its effectiveness across the crypto community.
Gamaroff remarked, “If you go to the Centbee wallet and you go to South Africa in the map, you’re going to see that there isn’t a single stretch of the country that we haven’t covered. Even the smallest towns across the country have multiple locations where you can go into the store, hand over cash and receive Bitcoin instantly, not even hours or days later but instantly on your Centbee wallet. So, this is now our gateway, and now we can start creating this ability to move that money, and this is what we’ve done.”
The first corridor that the company decided to disrupt was Nigeria-South Africa. Nigeria is the other African economic giant and with over 200 million people, it was the best market to start with.
While many people focus on selling the potential of Bitcoin to those who are yet to try it, Centbee has used a different approach. As Gamaroff explained, the company uses Bitcoin as the rail, with the customer not even having to get into all the technical details involved.
To use Centbee’s remittance platform, the user just indicates the amount they wish to transfer on the Centbee Remit app. The user also has to indicate the name and the account number of the recipient. Centbee has to validate the details because, “there is a regulatory requirement about that.” The app then generates the bar code which the user can then use to pay at a retail store through the voucher system.
The company then sends the BSV to a local partner in the country where the recipient resides. With BSV being the fastest blockchain project, this only takes a few seconds. The partner in the other country then converts it into fiat and deposits into the recipient’s bank account.
How fast is the transaction, you ask? Gamaroff illustrated, “You could still be in the line at the cashier’s when you go and create that transaction. Before you’ve even left the store, the money is actually in the bank account on the other side.”
Centbee’s remittance solution has brought down the costs associated with this type of transaction drastically. In Africa, the cost of international remittance averages at 15%, an abnormally high percentage that hinders free trade between the African nations and beyond. But it’s not just the costs that it has brought down as Gamaroff explained:
But not only that, it’s the whole convenience of it. You know, it’s not just about the price usually. It’s the convenience. How easy is it for me to be able to go the store and without having to fill in a whole lot of complex information, be able to make that transaction.
It’s not been all rosy for the company. One of the challenges that it has faced is the regulatory environment. However, Gamaroff and his team have designed Centbee to be compliant. Already, the company requires important information from its users as required by the financial laws.
Away from Centbee, Gamaroff is excited about the developments taking place in the BSV ecosystem. Speaking to CoinGeek’s Jasmine Solana, he stated, “What we’re finding is that everybody is talking about the amazing products that can be built, the ways in which we can disrupt the existing industries. It’s really fascinating.”