Nairobi, Kenya-based BitPesa now lets you buy bitcoins with the country’s local currency, the shilling:
— BitPesa (@BitPesa) December 29, 2014
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The startup that launched last year has, until now, focused on bitcoin-based remittances. Users would send the service bitcoins, which would then be converted to shillings and sent to the recipient via a Kenyan mobile money wallet (M-Pesa, Orange, Airtel or Yu). A 3% fee is charged per transaction. To get a hold of bitcoins, the site recommends exchange services such as Bitstamp, Coinbase, Circle and BTC China.
Now shillings can be used to buy bitcoins, although it appears the process is manual, at least for now: A user needs to submit an online form with his/her Bitcoin address, contact details and the amount of shilling to be exchanged.
The remittance service aims to tap into Kenya’s remittance market which, according to the World Bank, is worth $1.3 billion annually and costs users $110 million (8.5%) in fees.