Rebit.ph, the Philippines-based bitcoin remittance service, says it is no longer charging fees on transfers.
In the final months of 2014, the service reportedly experienced a monthly growth rate of 150%. At the time, they were charging 1% on transfers, which was still highly competitive relative to traditional fiat-based providers like Western Union and MoneyGram.
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With such success, the move would seem counterintuitive and unnecessary. It also raises the simple question of how the company intends to turn a profit, a question which is relevant for several emerging wallet/transfer startups also offering free services. It is possible that once a desired critical mass of loyal clientele is achieved, the employment of a freemium model will garner revenue from tangential services.
Commenters have pointed out that the ability to transmit for free, including the absence of conversion fees, can potentially make for some interesting arbitrage opportunities. Bitcoin prices, when calculated in terms of dollars, can often be higher in the region. However, such opportunities need to also account for fiat-fiat exchange rates/liquidity, as well as the sought premium to hedge against bitcoin price instability.
Rebit also notes that the zero-fee model is applicable for bank deposits in Metro Manila, and other methods may incur fees.