There was Kipochi, then BitPesa then BitSoko. Kipochi died just as it came but BitPesa has stood the test of time and is expanding as we speak. A new platform, Byt.co.ke is promising Kenyans using non-smartphones an opportunity of a lifetime by enabling them to send money to anyone in the world without using a third party.
Founded this year and still under development by Ian Wambai, Byt works using simple SMS commands that users can send from any phone to another across the world or next door.
Speaking to TechMoran Wambai said, “I wanted the benefits of bitcoin to be crystal clear. If I was going to get tons of people to understand the advantages of bitcoin I needed to lower the barrier to entry hardware-wise. The new version of Byt had to work on any mobile device, no Android app, no internet required. It had to be offline which means I had to build an SMS/USSD system connected to the blockchain.”
Wambai then began creating a mobile-phone based money transfer service that will help users transfer money affordably unlike mobile money which is expensive and people have no alternatives.
He therefore embarked to build a system to allow users to send money to anyone at an extremely small transaction fee whether sending it internationally or just across the room to a friend in need.
“It had to allow you to send your money to anyone, anywhere, very little personal data required, no restrictions, all for a flat rate. In addition, Byt would seamlessly let you move from buying and selling your day to day goods, to sending and receiving money from your loved ones and business partners across the world, to making purchases from all the online businesses that accept bitcoin.”
He says he wanted Byt to be platform independent. Users needn’t be tied to their phone number, and shouldn’t have to suffer the high costs without any options anymore.
According to Wambai, Bytt works simply.
A user sends a simply command- “Byt start” which takes them through creation of a bitcoin wallet including their bitcoin address, and a trust code for authentication.The second command-“Byt send xxx amount in Ksh to xxxx phone number”-allows a user to send the amount specified to the phone number specified as long as the recipient is registered with Byt.
“If you want to send cash to someone who’s not on Byt they’ll simply have to send “Byt start” in order to register, and you’ll be able to send them cash, to anywhere on the planet. “Byt send wallet *amount in Ksh* to *bitcoin address*” This command will send the specified amount of cash to the bitcoin address specified. “Byt withdraw *amount in Ksh*” for withdrawing an equal value of bitcoin as the cash value specified from your bitcoin wallet and send the cash value to you via mobile money” he says.
“Byt balance” helps users check both a user’s cash and bitcoin balance. “Byt address” is a command to send you a bitcoin address while “Byt convert BTC *amount in bitcoin*”-will send you a response containing the Ksh value of the specified amount of bitcoin.
Byt is yet to launch and you can’t try it out at the moment but we are excited to welcome them to the bitcoin-cash or bitcoin-mobile wallet transfers or bitcoin-merchant services.
Wish them well!