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Bitcoin

Kenyans Will Soon Be Able To Send Bitcoin By Phone 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the 1-800-money dept.
jfruh writes "M-Pesa is a wildly popular mobile payment system in Kenya, which allows citizens of a country with a poor banking infrastructure to easily transfer money to each other using ubiquitous dumbphones. Currently the system only works in the local currency, but there are plans afoot to allow users to transfer Bitcoin — which would help Kenyans working abroad send money back home without paying high international bank transfer fees."
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Kenyans Will Soon Be Able To Send Bitcoin By Phone

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  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday July 12, 2013 @04:30AM (#44259425)

    Now it won't cost you so much to help them smuggle their vast fortune out of the country.

    • by 1s44c (552956)

      Now it won't cost you so much to help them smuggle their vast fortune out of the country.

      Or maybe they could trade with each other without getting abused by middlemen?

      • by rubycodez (864176)

        but electronic systems are for just that purpose. now elite scum can get a piece of the action every time a poor farmer buys or sells.

    • You know that Kenya and Nigeria are not the same, right?

      I spent a couple of years working on 419 style scams. The origin was always, without fail, coastal west African nations. I don't recall even once seeing Kenya crop up. Don't paint all of sub-saharan Africa with the same brush.

      • You know that Kenya and Nigeria are not the same, right?

        I spent a couple of years working on 419 style scams. The origin was always, without fail, coastal west African nations. I don't recall even once seeing Kenya crop up. Don't paint all of sub-saharan Africa with the same brush.

        Yeah, my bad. If you need an excuse:

        I'm an American; I can't be expected to know anything about world geography.

  • by Mister Transistor (259842) on Friday July 12, 2013 @04:32AM (#44259431) Journal

    Here comes a whole new spate of 419-style "My client was a prince who died with a huge bunch of bitcoins and I need help smuggling them out of the country, please help..." scam emails.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 12, 2013 @04:34AM (#44259433)

    Having lived in Kenya for 5 years, actually MPESA, and the mobile networks in general, are much better than what's in the West. You can transfer money to anyone, anytime, with any phone. Transfer to and from your bank account. Signal strength is consistently 100% in any town of any significance. Fast Internet even in many places away from towns. PAYG calls 1c or 2c/minute, Internet 1c/Mb or less, tethering included on PAYG. Coming back to the West meant getting used to rather inferior service!

    David Anderson

    • 10 $ / GB sounds very expensive, do you also have to pay a monthly fee?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        That's _mobile_ Internet. Go compare again.

        In the UK, Three offers all-you-can-eat (as opposed to unlimited*) mobile data for 15 pounds for 30 days on PAYG, and they only recently dropped their prices to 1p/MB for mobile data when you're not on the all-you-can-eat plan. None of the other operators in the UK does this, with prices of tens of pence per MB for out-of-plan mobile data.

        Do you still think 1c/MB for mobile data is expensive now? You just can't get that in the west.

        • T-mobile offers unlimited everything. I know because I have it, for £35 I get unlimited calls, texts and internet.

          And when I moved house and had no broadband for 2 months (Due a problem with the copper line), they proved it, as I hit 35GB a month without even a peep from them about it, let alone a change to my monthly bill.

          If there is a limit to their internet access, I've not hit it yet.

    • "Having lived in Kenya for 5 years, actually MPESA, and the mobile networks in general, are much better than what's in the West. You can transfer money to anyone, anytime, with any phone. Transfer to and from your bank account. "

      Can I assume from your example that this is not yet possible in the US?
      Giving money oders by phone exists at least as long as ATMs where I live.

    • by operagost (62405)
      There's nothing in your post that is inferior or unavailable in the USA, except perhaps 100% signal strength "in any town of any significance."
    • by mojo706 (2741469)
      Actually that has changed. If you subscribe to any of the newer ISP's they don't limit your downloads and you pay a flat fee. For example I pay about 30 $ a month for 1Mbs connection speed with a high limit. I think the limit is about 20-40 GB a month depending on ISP.
  • by mitcheli (894743) on Friday July 12, 2013 @04:46AM (#44259471)
    Now I'll start getting emails notifying me that I've won the Bitcoin lottery and that I'm to send Bitcoin payment to Mr. Abdul Smith courtesy of international trasit number .... and that I only need to help pay the 10BC fee for setting up the transit. By way of official international transit carrier. And certified by Mr. Smith himself. On behalf of the US FBI and director J Edgar Hoover.

    Or something like that.

  • by eksith (2776419) on Friday July 12, 2013 @04:48AM (#44259479) Homepage

    Cue the Bit419 emails.

    But seriously, this is a step in the right direction. The allure of Bitcoin to me isn't even the privacy (which is debatable) it's that, by not having "central" anything, it truly democratizes access to currency. Forget the hoarders, the conversions and the "banks"; this is a means to transfer money that everyone should have access to.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You mean the 110100011 emails.

    • Also at the decentralized bitcoin exchange site LocalBitcoins.com people trade with various alternative payment systems, including Kenyan M-PESA. Because at LocalBitcoins.com trading happens peer-to-peer (no centralized accounts) the site can support almost any payment method the users can throw at it.

      Which brings me to the point... Nigeria is not behind, but might be actually a forerunner. There has existed some bitcoin trading in Nigeria for some time now:

      https://localbitcoins.com/country/NG [localbitcoins.com]

      Other African

    • by Burb (620144)

      " Forget the hoarders, the conversions and the "banks"; this is a means to transfer money that everyone should have access to."

      The hoarders, the conversions and the "banks" are exactly what make Bitcoin absolutely worthless. To say nothing of the miners. No one wants to send money home to Mom & Pop if they can't trust the handlers and the value fluctuates wildly.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    BTC is a hilariously unstable currency.

    I have witnessed it halve, then double, then more then halve, then slightly double in the span of a single month. Absolutely nothing is guaranteed in BTC, and to make things even worse the exchanges (which you need to turn your BTC into something usable out in the real world- sorry, but ordering pizza and black market goods is hardly considered "useful") are notoriously unreliable as well. There is literally nothing propping up the system and protecting it from evapora

    • BTC is a hilariously unstable currency.

      Not really by the standards of things. I assume you're a Westener, used to exceptionally stable curriencies like the Dollar, Euro, Pound, etc etc.

      Compared to them, BTC is a bit of a crapshoot. Compared to less good currencies, it's a solid as a rock. Compare it for example to the Zimbabwe dollar.

      BTC into something usable out in the real world- sorry, but ordering pizza and black market goods is hardly considered "usefu

      Ah the old "can't buy anything useful with it".

      Art

  • Migrant workers, indeed the poor generally, typically get ripped off by people like Western Union, since they have little choice.
    So, this could be a good thing, as long as some sudden exchange-rate swing does not wipe out the credit.
    (Although transfer times should be short, reducing the voltility risk).
    The cost of buying the bc credit needs to be reasonable, too.

    Of course, once this gets popular, Govs will cry "OMG terrerists!!" and regulate it to death or just shut it down...

    • by PRMan (959735)

      Of course, once this gets popular, Govs will cry "OMG terrerists!!" and regulate it to death or just shut it down...

      Too late. They've already tried in the US.

    • As an American, I crapped my pants and hit the fetal position when I saw you used the "T word"
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        You require reeducation. The proper response for americans when they hear the word "terrorists" is to uncontrollably urinate. Defication is completely outside the allowed response reaction protocol.

        Can you please show up to the Reeducation center nearest to you as soon as possible. Bring something soft to bite down on and shave the back of your head for easier placement of the electrodes.

        Thank you citizen.

  • Third-party (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 12, 2013 @05:27AM (#44259603)

    The summary made it sound like the M-Pesa system was going to add support for bitcoin somehow ("there are plans afoot to allow users to transfer Bitcoin"), but from TFA, it's just an unrelated third party offering a service that lets you buy bitcoin and pay via M-Pesa.

    Essentially some guy put up a website where you can buy bitcoin.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For a long time I've been wondering who the heck is paying Slashdot to post news about Bitcoin? Common, guys, it isn't such an omnipresent concept to be on our daily feeds....

    • by Iskender (1040286)

      Bitcoins are money, and they are tech.

      Both money and tech are absolutely essential for the majority of Slashdotters. I think it would be stranger if Slashdot *didn't* cover Bitcoins.

      On top of that, people understandably expected it to crash "soon". Every day it doesn't crash into oblivion makes it more interesting. And if there is a crash in the end, every day brings us closer to it. Because of this, Bitcoin is even more interesting.

    • by Megane (129182)
      That's like asking who is paying Drudge to post news about train wrecks and Michael Jackson. The bitcoin articles are here to amuse us.
  • Bitcoins won't be stored on cellphones (I mean the private key), but centrally in the service that provides the ability to trade them. This is a single point of failure, and I really don't like this.
  • by TheDarkMaster (1292526) on Friday July 12, 2013 @06:28AM (#44259763)
    without paying high international bank transfer fees

    This is VERY interesting. In my country banks work hard to steal every penny from anyone who needs to send or receive money from abroad
    • Don't worry, TheDarkMaster. This will facitiltate all kinds of scamming and abuse. It's just a question of who is going to manipulate the market and wipe the wealth of these folks out. Anyone foolish enough to store their wealth in Bitcoins is going to have a bad day. Banks atleast provide a reliable level of tax.

      • I think you do not understand what I meant. I found the idea interesting in the sense of not having to pay a high rate for a bank, just because you are sending money abroad rather than somewhere within your country. Here, you need to pay more than $ 50 to send, say, $ 100 for a son who is doing study abroad. Roughly, here banks try to prevent you from sending money abroad or receiving, through extortionate rates.

        Obs: It is interesting to mention that the "1%" here does not have any complications to send
        • by Shados (741919)

          Obs: It is interesting to mention that the "1%" here does not have any complications to send out millions, the difficulties and extorsive taxes are only for ordinary people.

          Flat fees. Its the same $50 to send $50 or to send 10 million, because its the same damn service. Nothing to do with the "1%".

          • You did not catch the subtlety of the problem. With this flat rate the bank make prohibitive for the average citizen to send money, while making it cheaper for the rich sending money. Who do you think makes banks act so instead of charging a fairer fee and proportional to the amount shipped?
  • And the price of bitcoin goes up!
  • by h4x0t (1245872)
    Is that why bitcoins are up 20%? Some day I'll jump through all the hoops to pick some up... some day....
  • My name is Prince Abdula, and I am in a situation now that I believe you could help me with. I am moving to the US but need help to transfer 1.5B Bitcoins out of my country. If you could kindly give me your cell phone number, I will transfer the Bitcoins to your account and will give you 1.5M Bitcoins in exchange for your help....
  • Dubious. I'll wait for the press release.
  • I would just like to clarify that Kenyans aren't responsible for the email scams. So whatever email you get its probably not from a Kenyan. :)
  • Why not one of the newer options like Litecoin that has faster transaction times? Litetree litecoin exchange is one of the new sites that can buy and sell the litecoins.

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