Rebittance.org is a neutral, informational website launched by Satoshi Citadel Industries, the parent company of Rebit.ph, a Bitcoin remittances company targeted toward users in the Philippines. The goal of the website is simple: to promote the use of Bitcoin in remittances.
For those unaware, the remittances market is the market for transferring currency value from people in distant areas to each other. Clearly, sending dollars to my friend in Japan is not exactly optimal – so businesses have stepped in to assist in the process. I don’t actually want to send dollars – I want to send money, so, in this case, Yen. Sending money like that to my friend in Japan would get me charged quite a bit through the traditional banking system – potentially as high as 12% of the money I wanted to send.
But that’s Japan. A first-world country, with relatively solid banking infrastructure, good technology, and a strong relationship with the US.
What if I want to send money to my friend in Uganda, instead? I would have to use a service like Western Union, or Moneygram – services that charge up to 20% of the value I’m trying to send, and even more if you’re trying to send it quickly or not sending a large amount! That’s beyond ridiculous, all for the effort of shuffling numbers around in a database, and exchanging some pieces of paper. A good introduction to how terrible the system is for people in third-world countries who are trying to have money sent to them is this short documentary clip, produced by BitcoinFilm, titled “Bitcoin in Uganda – Empowering People”:
So, what’s so great about Rebittance.org launching?
It’s a branding effort. It’s an effort to make people aware of the possibilities. And while it’s hard to say it’s entirely philanthropic in nature – it is run by a parent company of a remittance service, after all – we shouldn’t be offended by a business that knows it will save consumers money going out of their way to make sure consumers hear their message. And that’s just what Rebittance.org is doing.
As efforts like this really start to get going, we will start to see a slow shift in the public perception of Bitcoin. For many who have heard of it, it has been a phantasm; or, as some have said, a mirage. This is an actual use case in the real world, that could do an immense amount to help some of the most impoverished people in the world get aid from their loved ones who might live in better economies. The difference to someone like Ronald between receiving $39 in Ugandan shillings from $40 in Bitcoin after 2 hours and receiving $28 in Ugandan shillings from $40 sent by Western Union after a week is immense. Not just the immediacy, but the difference in fees can make a dramatic change in the lives of people in situations like Ronald’s.
And the next step after people begin to use Bitcoin for remittances like this commonly? What happens when enough people are used to using Bitcoin for things like this, is that merchants will start accepting it. Maybe not “officially,” but casually? Yes, certainly. And when that happens is when the magic truly begins – because while the difference between $40 and $39 is very small, the difference is still a difference. Using Bitcoin without converting can save that little bit extra – and slowly, slowly, people everywhere will catch on to that fact.