Fintech startup Freemit is about to launch the next generation of money transfer.
“Money when you need it, anywhere, in any currency, from anyone, in seconds, NO fees,” states the Freemit website in simple and very disruptive terms. “Send, spend and get money anywhere in seconds. Skip the bank with our Bitcoin-powered exchange and pay no fees, ever.”
The Freemit service, which includes a phone app and a (presumably virtual) credit card, is scheduled to start rolling out in 2016 and incentivize users with $10 in their accounts. In the meantime, interested readers can sign up for a waiting list.
“Freemit is a financial travel companion that empowers 3.6 billion travelers, students and others with a digital wallet, giving them financial independence to instantly access their financial resources using bitcoin,” reads Freemit’s Crunchbase profile . “They are creating a streamlined, inexpensive alternative to the current remittance and currency exchange systems. Using the blockchain and a local currency in/local currency out vision, they will make moving money cheaper, better, and friction-free.” The company received $120,000 seed funding in January 2015.
“Our banks are robbing us,” stated Freemit founder and CEO John Biggs as first reported by Crowdfund Insider . “And this doesn’t make sense anymore. Because the world has changed. There is this thing called the Internet, which changed everything … Except banking. And except money transfer. But that is going to change. It has to change. Why has it taken so long?”
That John Biggs is behind Freemit is news in itself, because he is a well-known author and editor. He is the East Coast Editor at TechCrunch – see his Crunchbase profile – and former editor-in-chief of Gawker Media’s technology magazine Gizmodo . Biggs has written for many high-profile general interest and technology outlets, and authored several books .
“What I am interested in are applications which seek to use Bitcoin to supplant our sclerotic, duct-taped global financial plumbing,” says TechCrunch columnist Jon Evans, and mentions as first example “Freemit, headed by TechCrunch ’s own John Biggs.”
How does Freemit get away with providing customers instant cash in any currency with no fees? Of course, an important factor is that Freemit channels transfers through the Bitcoin blockchain, which significantly reduces the service’s costs, but doesn’t explain how the company plans to make money. Bitcoin Magazine contacted Biggs, who said he isn’t ready to talk about Freemit’s business model at the moment, but will be able to say more in a few weeks.
Crowdfund Insider speculates that the company might monetize the service via credit card service fees.
“Bitcoin’s blockchain technology, and the open ledger that all can see, effectively cuts out the need for central banking oversight of transfers,” notes a Freemit blog post . “This makes instant money transfer something that can and should happen in the near future. Instead of complicated transfers between banks, central banks, and receiving banks, Bitcoin creates an easy, entirely digital, transparent and trustworthy system for money transfer.”
“When it comes to foreign exchange transactions Bitcoin is set to shatter the paradigm,” continues Freemit. “Banks charge 3-5% on foreign exchange transfers because they have a monopoly on this system. But the advent of Bitcoin essentially cuts out the middleman on any foreign exchange. Instead of going through banks, Bitcoin exchanges can now function as an instant, automated, and transparent exchange system. With Bitcoin the possibility now exists for the creation of a universal, instant, and cost-free system of international money exchange. Like the introduction of email, the possibility of instant, no cost money exchange is going to revolutionize the future of money.”
It seems likely that Freemit, if actually able to operate instantly with no fees, could seriously disrupt the money transfer sector, including the $583 billion remittance industry. As with all essential technologies, Bitcoin will become part of the backstage.
“As a bitcoin booster I will like nothing better than to watch bitcoin get boring, says Biggs in his 2016 tech predictions . “Bitcoin, like the Internet, is part of our worldwide infrastructure.”