Bitcoins is an emerging technology which you probably heard about already. It it amazing to me that we already have at least two players in the Caribbean. I am hoping my questions and their answers serve as a guide to you and helps you with your own questions and feedback which could engender improvements going forward.
What is a bitcoin wallet?
A bitcoin wallet is a downloadable app for your mobile phone that you can use to instantly send, receive and store bitcoin. It can also be used to make online purchases at any of the hundreds of retailers who accept bitcoin, which include Overstock, Microsoft, Expedia, Sears, Kmart, HomeDepot, Dell and Amazon (via gift card), among many others.
Caricoin’s wallet makes using bitcoin easy by streamlining the experience. It is free to use, integrates with your address book, has a unique instant chat feature to help communicate with other users and allows you to top-up any mobile phone anywhere in the Caribbean.
What are the benefits to me?
Bitcoin isn’t controlled by any central bank or institution so all transfers go directly from person to person without passing through a clearing house. As a result, there are no fees involved to send or receive funds, and since transfers take only seconds to be registered, the exchange of funds is practically instantaneous. Owning a bitcoin wallet is a bit like owning a credit card without having to qualify for credit.
Why bitcoins over traditional investments or banking or credit cards?
As an investment:
In its short life, the value of a bitcoin has gone from less than US$1 to over US$600 dollars today. So a $1,000 dollar investment in bitcoin four years ago would now be worth over $600,000 dollars. Based on its growth and acceptance around the world, bitcoin’s value should continue to rise. Many experts predict that one bitcoin will be worth over $3,000 by the end of 2017.
There are many issues surrounding traditional banking, especially in developing countries. Banks make it very difficult to open an account; there are unreasonable prerequisites to qualify, it’s time consuming, and the high travel costs involved in just getting to the bank make the system largely inaccessible to many. Bitcoin eliminates these stumbling blocks and also offers a level of privacy and security that banks cannot provide.
With credit cards, payments are expensive for merchants -up to 4% for a basic transaction- and leaves them open to fraud, reversals and chargebacks. Since bitcoin payments are not reversible, these issues are eliminated as purchases cannot ever be cancelled. Consumers also pay hefty fees on their credit card balances and especially on overseas transactions, while with bitcoin there are little to no fees involved.
Are my bitcoins insured?
Bitcoin’s security protocols have been intensely scrutinized and endorsed by some of the world’s most qualified researchers. Password entry and additional verification measures are in place to ensure that only you have access to your account. Since the supply of bitcoin is regulated by software and also through an agreement with the technology’s network, no institution or individual can seize or manipulate it.
Caricoin is partnered with BitGo, the global leader in security platforms for bitcoin and blockchain technologies, to provide a secure, enterprise Bitcoin wallet with solutions for corporate treasury and key management.
There are also 3rd party companies that offer bitcoin insurance which is specifically designed to cover damages resulting from a specific user’s loss, such as the losses resulting from a compromise of the customer login credentials or loss of the unique private key associated with your wallet’s “address”.
Will I be able to cash out my bitcoins?
There are many ways to exchange bitcoins for cash; over 790 bitcoin ATM’s are installed worldwide and nearly 35,000 bitcoin exchanges available which use existing networks of traditional bank ATMs or mobile payment terminals to cash out your bitcoins. There are also several retail chains that will buy your bitcoins via a cashier desk.
You can also cash them out by signing up on a bitcoin exchange like Kraken, Circle or Coinbase, which allow you to sell your bitcoin on the open market, and then transfer the funds directly into your bank account.
What are some of the frequent questions you get?
Most people want to know how to buy bitcoin, where they can spend it, and how they can cash it out. While bitcoin is rapidly gaining popularity worldwide, we are still at the beginning of the revolution and many persons still need to be educated about mobile banking and the use of bitcoin specifically.
What are some of the downsides to bitcoins?
While bitcoin adoption has increased rapidly over the past year, there are still limitations to where bitcoin can be spent. But with more and more businesses signing on every day, this problem is starting to disappear.
The value of bitcoin also tends to fluctuate on a daily basis, which may make some people a bit nervous about it. But with its consistent upward trajectory over time, many people are now starting to become more comfortable with storing their cash as bitcoin and making transactions using bitcoin.
What could hinder the adoption of bitcoins in the Caribbean?
The main issue is regulation – without it, bitcoin companies can’t integrate directly into the local banking system, which makes it harder for people in the Caribbean to take advantage of all that bitcoin has to offer. Banking integration would allow you to link your bank account or debit card to your bitcoin wallet and use it to buy and sell bitcoin without having to use overseas companies to acquire it – making the process a lot easier for locals.
Anything you would like to add?
Currently the Caribbean is under heavy scrutiny as a result of its offshore banking ecosystem, and is suffering from what is known as “de-risking” by the international banking sector and the corresponding banks that control the flow of funds in and out of the Caribbean. When you pass the result of this on to the consumer, what it means is more deflation and tighter financial times as the cost of moving money around keeps going up.
Bitcoin is a great solution to this problem since it doesn’t go directly through the banking system and can get around the corresponding banks that are doing the de-risking. This will make life much easier for local banks –and the people of the Caribbean– in the long term.
Caricoin Ltd is a UK-based company with development offices in Kingston, Jamaica. It is focused on transforming the Caribbean’s economy by delivering a secure, user-friendly and less costly way of storing wealth and moving it around. To learn more and to install the Caricoin wallet on your android device, visit www.caricoin.com