Australia-based DigitalBTC has announced its launch of “AirPocket”, a blockchain-based system that is envisioned to function like an “Uber” for remittances.
The company has until now engaged in the mining and trading of bitcoin. The latest offering can be described as a way of decentralizing remittances among the general population, as opposed to processing through a single agent like Western Union. CEO Zhenya Tsvetnenko explained:
“This is designed so that anyone can start their own business. Like anyone with a car can become an Uber driver, this will allow anyone with a smartphone to become an AirAgent and begin distributing cash to those receiving remittance from overseas.”
Similar to an Uber driver, Airpocket’s mapping interface allows you to find an agent in another country, who would send the funds to the recipient. An encrypted code, “Aircode”, is generated once the agent receives the funds, which are sent via the blockchain. The recipient validates the code to access the funds.
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The obvious challenge will be security, seeing that agents will be entrusted with sensitive information. Tsvetnenko acknowledged that “stealing someone’s one-time AirCode is like stealing someone’s wallet with cash in it. In general, there is little protection that can be provided from this.”
The fees for the transaction would be charged to the sender and come in at 3%, significantly less than traditional remittance channels. DigitalBTC would retain 1%, as would the agent.
DigitalBTC is publicly traded on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Its shares soared by 89% to close at $0.175 (AUD) today, their biggest daily gain since re-launching for public trade as a Bitcoin company 14 months ago. The launch may have contributed to the spike, although it would seem insufficient for a rally of this size.
Shares are now at their highest since November, but are still more than 60% off their March 2014 peak after losing as much as 84% following the re-launch.