Abra is planning to finally launch global support for its remittance and currency exchange app in February, as announced on Tuesday at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami by CEO Bill Barhydt. This would provide an easy way for people to trade their local currencies for bitcoin and vice versa.
Digital cash peer-to-peer network Abra allows users to send or receive money instantly, privately, and securely without the need for a bank account. Founded in 2014, the California-based company launched the Abra app in beta for both iOS and Android the following year, and received $14 million funding.
Delivering on Big Promises Made Long Ago
In early 2016, Abra finally began a test phase in the Philippines, using the Philippine Peso. That June, the company made its app available for users in the US allowing remittances between the US and the Philippines. Currently, the app only supports USD and PHP currencies with no bitcoin option available.
On Tuesday, Abra announced that it will finally launch worldwide, stating that:
Anyone with a smartphone in any country can send or receive funds in most major currencies and can cash in or out of their Abra wallet, even without a bank account.
Abra’s Global Launch
Barhydt explained in Miami that Abra users will be able to send, receive, and store bitcoin inside the Abra app, in addition to 50 fiat currencies. The company admits that even though bitcoin is a large part of its business, “it’s been hidden in the background up until now.” However, that is changing with the upcoming launch.
Further, the Abra app itself is a fully-working non-custodial digital currency wallet, meaning that Abra has no access to the user’s private key even if the users hold US Dollars in their wallet. Barhydt wrote in the announcement:
Once we launch, any Abra user can use Bitcoin via any third party Bitcoin Wallet to add and remove funds from their Abra App regardless of which currency they’re holding in their Abra Wallet.
Abra Teller Network Launch
Adding to the announcement was the global expansion of the Abra Teller network or “Human ATMs.” This network, which Abra has successfully tested in the Philippines, allows people worldwide to use Abra and become a currency exchanger using bitcoin. Barhydt revealed the convention that there are already “a few thousand” Abra human tellers in the Philippines.
Tellers can make money while helping their community send and receive money,” Barhydt claims, adding that:
If you’re an existing Bitcoin trader you can now use that Bitcoin to become an Abra Teller and process deposits/withdrawals for people who don’t know what Bitcoin is.
For example, a consumer holding US Dollars can meet a Teller, and process a withdrawal to receive Argentine Pesos. Neither party even knows that a dual-currency-trade transaction took place.
Abra estimates $30-$40 million per week is now traded in person in “fiat vs Bitcoin” in over 75 countries. “This is a huge step forward in realizing our vision of anyone being able to send money easily to anyone else in the world, instantly, privately, and securely,” Barhydt noted.
Abra charges no transfer fees to users. However, individual Abra tellers set their own fees and exchange rates so city rates may be lower than rural rates due to higher competition. Their rates can be found by opening the app and look at nearby tellers to see their fee details.
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Images courtesy of Envision Global Finance, the World Bank, Abra