Global payment providers and remittance companies make it difficult for Sub-Saharan Africans to send and receive money. The explicit blacklisting of entire African countries by firms such as PayPal and exorbitant remittance fees by the likes of WesternUnion, MoneyGram among others stifle economic development in this region.
With USD 50’000 in funding from the Meltwater Foundation, Ghana’s Kitiwa finds this unacceptable and starting with Ghana and Nigeria, Kitiwa says it using modern technology to enable Sub-Saharan Africans to send and receive money cheaply, and instantly.
Founded in Accra, Ghana, June this year, Kitiwa is a Bitcoin financial services company focused on enabling simple online payments and fast, low-cost remittances for Africans. Since launch last month, Kitiwa has served over 40,000 USD in transaction volume and was recently feted as the best startup in the country by Seedstars World Accra, an emerging markets startups competition.
Speaking to TechMoran, Nikunj Handa, CEO, Kitiwa said the firm is excited to be among the DEMO Africa top 40. and plans to use the platform to launch its services in Nigeria.
“We are very excited about launching our services in Nigeria at the DEMO Africa event. It is going to be a big stage for us. We hope to get the word out on Kitiwa to a large audience in Nigeria and to the rest of Africa,” said Handa. “As of now, we only allow customers to buy Bitcoins from us in order to help them with their online payments. Soon after DEMO, we plan to tackle the remittance industry by allowing people to sell Bitcoins on the platform in exchange for local currencies.”
Kitiwa wants to help users to simply buy bitcoins by following a few easy steps.
A user goes to kitiwa.com and selects how many US dollars worth of Bitcoins they want. A user then enters their Bitcoin wallet address to tell Kitiwa where to deliver his or her bitcoins (here’s how to create a free Bitcoin wallet in seconds) and then a user pays for their order with MPower Payments (here’s how to create a free MPower account and deposit money into it). After all these, a user will receive their Bitcoin order in their Bitcoin wallet within a few minutes after payment.
The firm charges a markup on the price of Bitcoins sold. Although Kitiwa is a for-profit company, it says it does not aim to explicitly maximise its profits at the expense of the benefits to its customers and charge exorbitant rates like its competitors. At the moment, the firm is educating users on the Bitcoin technology, which is a constant challenge but the team is coming up with innovative ways to solve this problem.
Kitiwa’s competition in the online payments sector from Paypal, Visa and MasterCard and from the remittance sector from companies like WesternUnion, MoneyGram among others. However, the competition is not gonna break them.
“We use the Bitcoin technology as the foundation behind our services, which is far superior than what our competitors use,” Handa says. “Bitcoin transactions are instant (compared to our competitions 2-3 day average), cheap (< USD 0.10 regardless of amount, compared to our competitions 12% average), globally accessible, and decentralised as the Bitcoin technology doesn’t blacklist anyone the way our competition does.”
Kitiwa aims to make payments and transfers cheap and instant for everyone.