African Remittance Firm Beam Stops Bitcoin Service in Pivot

Pete Rizzo
Aug 31, 2015 at 19:43 UTC
NEWS

Beam has announced it will no longer focus on using bitcoin in an attempt to disrupt the Ghanaian remittance market.

Launched last October, Beam emerged as one of a number of "rebittance" firms seeking to use the bitcoin blockchain as a means to enable low-cost cross-border payment services.

Beam had sought to appeal to local remittance users with a variety of payout options, allowing bitcoin received by its users to be applied to mobile phone airtime and utility bills, and by using charitable donations as a way to promote its efforts.

In a new interview, however, Beam CTO Falk Benke told Disrupt Africa that a revamped version of the service will not use bitcoin, saying instead that it would focus on international debit and credit cards.

The media outlet indicated that Benke cited the lack of local bitcoin adoption, the high cost of exchanging bitcoin for Ghanaian cedi and the volatility of bitcoin against fiat currencies as the reasons underlying the decision.

The news source suggested that Benke remains optimistic about bitcoin's potential as a means of payment on the continent, but that the move was a business decision, writing:

"[Falk] said he was not saying that bitcoin would not work in Africa, but said it was no longer on Beam’s agenda for the time being."

Despite the closure, other African startups remain focused on using bitcoin to unlock new savings in remittance markets, with $1.7m startup BitPesa focusing on East African markets.

Representatives from Beam did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ghana money exchange via Shutterstock

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