Last week, Techzim wrote about a startup called Study 263 which solves remittance issues using bitcoin. However, the startup only limits its services to from Zimbabwe to S.A and vice versa. Today, let’s talk about BitMari a bit. BitMari is a Bitcoin startup by Christopher Mapondera and Sinclair Skinner. It has several services including remittances and Bitcoin mobile wallet services – but for today, I will focus on its remittance services seeing we have this bond-cash-crisis. It would be nice to know how to remit money while incurring less charges; receiving it ‘on time’ and above all, receiving it in USD as opposed to bonds.
BitMari tries to address all the above concerns.
Currently, BitMari only remits money from the United Kingdom and the United States of America to Zimbabwe. What happens when one sends money from the UK or the States is that the money is transferred into Bitcoin, sent to Zimbabwe then transferred back to USD so that the collector can collect it as was sent.
The Bitcoin bit is all in the background and neither the sender nor the receiver necessarily have to understand Bitcoin technology to use the service.
Currently, transfer charges are at 5% i.e. to send say $20, you need to pay an extra $1. They also have incentive fees; that is to say you get extra money for receiving from the diaspora. Their incentive fees are currently at 3% ( RBZ’s is 5% but BitMari shares the 5% between the receiver and the agent). Therefore, using the same $20 example; the receiver gets an extra 60c just for receiving that amount. Nonetheless, the incentive fee is paid in bond notes.
BitMari works in collaboration with the Agriculture bank of Zimbabwe aka Agribank. In order to ensure the promise that you will get your money once sent, BitMari keeps a float balance at the bank, in this case Agribank. This means even if the bank has no money, the BitMari account will always have some since they prefund their account with USD.00techzim