Kipochi brings Bitcoin to Africa through M-Pesa

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Kipochi

Kipochi just launched its Bitcoin transfer service in Kenya using M-Pesa as its running platform. This service would allow people across Kenya to send and receive funds abroad with extremely low transaction fees using the crypto online currency — Bitcoin.

A few months ago, we heard rumours about Bitcoin ATMs in Africa. Although sounding disruptive, it doesn’t really take advantage of Africa’s unique market and has been implemented before. According to Quartz, M-Pesa accounts for as much as 31% of Kenya’s GDP. This is Kipochi’s main focus.

The company recently ran a Q&A thread on Reddit which showed much of the users’ appreciation as well as some talk of expansion to the rest of Africa including South Africa and Tanzania.

Kenyans will be able to send and receive Bitcoin and convert it to and from an M-Pesa balance. You can also buy and invest in Bitcoin. Though what stands out the most is probably the fact that the Kenyan diaspora will now compete with international transfer companies such as Western Union. Exchanging money will thus be made much cheaper as Bitcoin only charge US$0.04.

Kipochi works on all mobile phones, having SMS, USSD and HTML5 frontends, as well as a desktop computers.

As the company notes, by using low-cost feature phones people can send and receive Bitcoin from anywhere in the world. “With Kipochi, the remittances into Kenya has a faster and cheaper way to reach even the most remote areas in Kenya, villages with no banks or Western Union services – in an instant.”

One Redditor said this would change their Kenyan friend’s life dramatically while working in the US:

“She is a political refugee, most of her children still live in Kenya, Western Union costs about 10%, this will save her lots of money. To her, bitcoin sounds good, too, but, saving money is the main thing. As a political refugee, she appreciates the privacy bitcoin offers as well.”

It will be interesting seeing how fast and if this service as well as Bitcoin will gain traction in Africa. For now though it should definitely be considered as a worthy competitor to other transfer services and banks.

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