The Bitcoin payments startup Abra has been busy adding to its service offering since Bitcoin.com reported on its progress in January. Abra users in the U.S. and the Philippines can buy bitcoin via their bank account or with cash. The list of supported banks has been growing fast. On Thursday, the company announced that over 60 U.S. banks and credit unions are now supported for both deposits and withdrawals.
60+ U.S. Financial Institutions Supported
Abra users load money into the company’s smartphone app in two ways; with a bank account or with cash. The company started offering the option to buy bitcoin via bank accounts in early March, but only to users in the U.S. and the Philippines. There is no fee to add, send, or withdraw money from a bank account. Initially, only 17 U.S. banks were supported. However, on Thursday, the company announced the addition of many more U.S. financial institutions, stating that:
Our latest update adds support for 46 new US banks and credit unions, bringing the total number of supported US banks and credit unions to 63.
“In the U.S., these banks are supported for adding and withdrawing funds held in the Abra app,” the company’s website states. At press time, there are 34 banks and 29 credit unions supported. They include Bank of America, Capital One, Charles Schwab, Chase, Citibank, Commerce Bank, Fidelity, Suntrust, TD Bank, USAA, Union Bank, and Wells Fargo.
In the Philippines, adding funds to an Abra account can be done through only three banks: BDO Unibank, BPI, and Unionbank. Withdrawals can be done via most major banks, according to the Abra’s website, including Bank of Commerce, Citibank, HSBC, Metrobank and Union Bank. A full list of supported financial institutions for both the U.S. and the Philippines can be found here.
What makes Abra unique, however, is its network of human tellers, which currently supports over 50 currencies globally. While users outside the U.S. and the Philippines will have to use bitcoin to add and withdraw money from the Abra wallet, a teller can give them their local currency. The company is currently working to build out its teller network so that users can cash in and out from anywhere around the globe. At the end of March, the company revealed that there are Abra tellers in over 100 different cities worldwide including over 1,500 locations in the Philippines.
Abra users in the Bitcoin community are starting to describe on social media their experiences using the app. Reddit user “Pdubl” mentioned that he has tested out the new features successfully. “ACH transfer was relatively quick compared to Coinbase/Glidera, about 2-3 days,” he recalled and noted the new fee structure as well. He added:
The exchange rate seems to be about 1.5% but it’s built into the price. You also pay the BTC transaction fee when you withdraw.
ACH Transfer Limits, Rates, Time
Abra advertises “No transfer fees. Low exchange rates” on its website. “There’s a $500 daily limit on ACH-based cash loads,” the startup also noted. Once the money is loaded into the Abra app, users can hold, spend and send bitcoin to other Abra users anywhere in the world, as well as receive it in their own local currency.
The company claims to offer “the least expensive ACH-based option for buying bitcoin today.” At launch, it used Coinbase for bitcoin price conversion but has recently changed to using Tradeblock’s XBX Index. “This will result in a conversion rate that more closely tracks the global average across institutional bitcoin exchanges,” Thursday’s announcement reads.
In addition, Abra is “running tests to shorten the amount of time it takes to add money via bank deposit from 2-3 business days to 1-2 business days,” the company also revealed on Thursday. “In some cases we may require additional verification to protect the security of our customers’ accounts, which could add more time.”
One of Abra’s main goals has always been to jumpstart the mass adoption of Bitcoin. In its recent statements, the company wrote: “Bitcoiners can now send bitcoin to pay people without having to explain Bitcoin.” In addition, “they won’t even know the sender sent them bitcoin. Recipients can then cash out their wallet balance to their bank account in any of our supported countries or find an Abra Teller nearby if they need or prefer to withdraw physical cash.”
Would you use Abra? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Tradeblock and Abra
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