A search for better economic opportunities has lured many to move from the country of their origin to different destinations across the globe. According to World Bank statistics, the number of international migrants surpassed 250 million in 2015, an all-time high.

Further statistics by the Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016, produced by the World Bank Group’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) initiative, reveal that international migrants sent around $601 billion to their families during 2015 with approximately 74% going to developing countries. The United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia are among the largest remittance source countries while India, China and Philippines are the largest remittance receiving nations. (See also: Blockchain: The Backbone of Finance's Entire Future.)

The remittance money transfer market is big and getting bigger. Until recently, it has been dominated by banks and players like the Western Union and MoneyGram. However, a disruptive technology, bitcoin’s blockchain​, is challenging the secure position of these companies by bringing in cheaper, faster and more efficient methods of payment transfers. Here’s a list of a few start-ups leveraging blockchain technology to change the way money moves across the globe. (See also: Blockchain Boom: The Next Big Thing for Tech Startups.)

  1. Bitspark is a Hong Kong based startup founded in 2014 that provides a money transfer platform for licenced money transfer remittance businesses. Bitspark describes itself as “the world’s first end-to-end money transfer platform leveraging Bitcoin.” The company currently provides transfer services to the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.
  2. Abra, founded in 2014, is a digital cash, peer-to-peer money transfer network. “Abra Tellers represent a global, shared network of consumers helping each other easily deposit and withdraw cash from the Abra app anywhere in the world.” The instant, secure and direct services which work through a smartphone app are currently available in the Philippines with a vision to expand to many more countries in 2016.
  3. Align Commerce is a multi-rail payment system that facilitates cross-border payments. It is best suited for global small businesses, independent contractors and e-commerce developers. The company has offices in California, Massachusetts, Canada, the UK and Philippines. It services are available across 60 countries, here’s a list.
  4. Rebit.ph is a service of Satoshi Citadel Industries, a Philippines-based holdings company for Bitcoin-related ventures. The company provides BTC-to-PHP payout in the Philippines by accepting bitcoins from senders and delivering Philippine pesos to the recipients, thereby providing low cost, fast and secure transfers. Rebit covers more than 20 countries as source for sending remittances to the Philippines.
  5. Coins.ph is a Manila, Philippines- based company that facilitates money transfers through the use of mobile devices and blockchain technology. It allows customers to pay bills, buy load, and receive money from anywhere using bitcoins and its underlying blockchain technology.
  6. Hellobit provides a quick and easy way to send money directly from one’s bank account and have cash delivered, either one-time or on a recurring schedule. Hellobit facilitates transfers across the globe, which are 100% direct and guaranteed at much lower costs.
  7. CoinPip uses the blockchain technology to provide a safe and quick way to transfer money internationally. The services are available for Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. CoinPip’s flexible payment plans, mass payouts and other services are available for a 2% flat fee.
  8. BitPesa is a trading and universal payment platform in Africa. It facilitates sending and receiving payments to and from Africa. The services provided by BitPesa are especially of use to businesses dealing in the transfer of money to suppliers and distributors within and outside Africa.
  9. Romit was launched in April 2015 by Robocoin as the world’s first globally distributed payment network for underbanked industries. Romit is a cash remittance solution which enables money to be sent anywhere in any currency via the use of bitcoin and blockchain.
  10. Volabit provides an easy way to buy, sell or use bitcoins in Mexico. Its platform, Coinnect, allows international transfers in a matter of minutes. The service is currently available between Mexico and Argentina at low costs, almost instantly.

The Bottom Line

With the huge cost and time saving that such remittance gateways offer, people are increasingly resorting to them. New players are constantly challenging the dominant, conventional mechanism of payment transfers that existed before bitcoin and blockchain arrived.

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