3 Crypto Projects that Could Disrupt the Remittance Industry
Each year, people send billions of dollars back home to family and friends via the global remittance industry, including international fixtures like Western Union and MoneyGram, and traditional banking institutions. By 2022, this number is expected to top $1 trillion each year, and it continues to grow. Cryptocurrency, which relies on the blockchain, offers the ability to increase the speed and security of these transactions by cutting out traditional banking intermediaries. Blockchain money transfers are also more cost-effective, with the potential to reach billions of people globally without access to banking infrastructure through mobile wallet technology.
Blockchain money transfers
Average speeds of cross border money transfers using blockchain are 388 times faster than traditional remittance methods. It takes seconds to send the information to the blockchain, verify it, and then deliver the notification to the recipient's device. Using the blockchain is also significantly cheaper than the fees that most remittance companies charge, up to more than 127 times less expensive than traditional methods.
Distributed ledger technology proves added security as the transmission can’t be interrupted once initiated. Since the blockchain is independent of any banking institution, the only requirement to access funds from a transaction is an internet-enabled device. This means access for almost 2.5 billion poor, rural, mostly female recipients who may benefit from widespread use.
Promising crypto money transfer projects
There are three recent, thriving blockchain-based crypto money transfer projects that show promise in a highly competitive field. They each have strategic elements that many previous global remittance startups lacked and show real potential for shaking up the industry in the future.
- Ripple Labs, Inc. Ripple is an American company that created the Ripple protocol. This is a real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system and remittance network. When they launched operations in 2012, Ripple introduced the XRP cryptocurrency, which has since accumulated a market cap that exceeds $13bn. XRP functions as a separate token developed by Ripple to help banks instantly source liquidity.
Since its inception, Ripple has notably partnered with Spanish Bank Santander to increase the applications for Ripple's blockchain-powered xCurrent network through Latin America. Ripple provides instant money remittance services to customers like MoneyGram, Ria Money, Transfer, and Azimo, giving this project a shot at lasting importance.
- Stellar facilitates cross-border money transfers from digital currency to fiat currency using its decentralized payment network. It relies on a native currency, the Stellar coin. Thanks to initial startup funding from global payment giant Strip, Stellar has facilitated more than 450 million transactions between over 4 million accounts. Stellar has had a guiding presence in paving the way for large scale blockchain system implementation for cross-border transactions, including in partnership with IBM.
In the future, Stellar hopes to focus on the South Pacific, but it has already found success with smaller, local startups in Africa, including SureRemit that is based in Nigeria. The hope is to capitalize on that primary exposure to the African market for future expansion.
- BitPesa is a digital foreign exchange founded in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013 that also provides cryptocurrency liquidity in Africa. The company currently operates in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and beyond, with a focus on frontier markets throughout Africa. To date, the company has settled more than half a billion dollars on its platform.
In 2019, the company received $15 million in development funding from the Development Bank of Southern Africa. As a result, BitPesa has been rebranded to the AZA Group. It is now working to reduce the cost and increase the speed and reliability of payments for businesses and individuals in Africa's frontier markets. AZA group is also attempting to enable international remittances via cryptocurrency, mobile money technology, and other digital channels on a large scale.
The remittance market is still dominated by cash transfer systems like Western Union and MoneyGram. Based on recent trends, it seems likely that blockchain technology will successfully disrupt this industry and change it within the next few years. The distributed ledger technology has several advantages that make it more reliable, sustainable, and accessible than traditional global remittance. As cryptocurrency adoption is increased, we will likely see the reliance on blockchain increase.
These three crypto projects, Ripple, Stellar, and BitPesa, have managed to gain traction thanks to critical funding and strategic partnerships, alliances, and targeted markets. They all offer competitive services to underserved markets that stand to benefit significantly from the increased speed and security and the reduced costs of cross-border transfers on the blockchain.