Bitwala Connects Bitcoin to M-Pesa in Sub-Saharan Africa

The bitcoin-based payment platform Bitwala announced this week it’s now offering bitcoin-to-M-Pesa transactions at zero cost.

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Bitwala Launches BTC to M-Pesa Services in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania

Bitwala Connects Bitcoin to Mpesa in Sub-Saharan AfricaBitwala says they are pleased to announce the company’s bitcoin-to-M-Pesa service. Users of the platform can now send bitcoin to an M-Pesa account in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania free of charge. M-Pesa is a widely used mobile phone-based money system used in Afghanistan, India and Africa.

The mobile currency is predominantly used in Kenya and Tanzania, therefore giving users in the region access to much-needed remittance services. The mobile money has allowed anyone without a bank account to transfer funds using a registered sim-card and has become a disruptive force within the region.

“We want to be a part of the mobile money revolution, and we’re stepping it up a notch by enabling anyone to send money to any M-Pesa account using bitcoins,” details Bitwala CEO Jörg von Minckwitz.

Remittance Solutions for the Unbanked

The payment startup Bitwala believes transferring money should be “fast, cheap and secure” for anyone in the world. In regions such as Kenya, where M-Pesa is used quite a bit to transfer money, Kenyans transacted $28 billion using the service in 2015. This number is sure to rise, says Bitwala, as mobile phone penetration in sub-Saharan Africa grows exponentially.

To send money to any M-Pesa account utilizing Bitwala’s latest service, users simply register with the platform, choose a “mobile money” payment, and then an invoice to be paid in bitcoin is sent to the user. The startup hopes the new service will become a reliable money transfer solution for everyone.

Will Bitwala Have Issues With Safaricom?

Bitwala Connects Bitcoin to Mpesa in Sub-Saharan Africa
Safaricom Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore defended the decision to cancel services for two money transfer operators.

After the announcement was publicized, one bitcoin enthusiast asked, “What will prevent you from having the same problems as Bitpesa in Kenya?” Bitpesa has been trying for years to connect sub-Saharan Africans with the same type of solutions. But, in 2015, the startup had legal issues with the owners of M-Pesa, Safaricom, which took the case to the Kenyan High Court.

The mobile money operator made it difficult for Bitpesa to conduct transactions through Safaricom’s gateway services like Lipisha. Bitpesa has since been making other connections to help with the African remittance service by partnering with other financial institutions in Japan, China and more. Safaricom explained to the High Court that there were regulatory concerns with bitcoin, and companies are required to obtain a license for these types of transfers.

What do you think about Bitwala’s bitcoin to M-Pesa service? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitwala, and the Daily Nation. 


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  • Zyo

    How about bitcoin huge transaction fee?

  • Naira Epay

    Bitcoin is a relatively new form of currency that is just beginning to hit the mainstream, but many people still don’t understand why they should make the effort to use it. And those gateways circumventing it integration, rather dont want to loss their market dominance, neglecting the fact that the people need financial freedom and flexiblity with high security that bitcoins network offers. We are all waiting for the open API of MPesa.

  • Snangana

    We also expect that the same transits of BITCOIN by M-PSA become possible for the Democratic Republic of Congo.