The increasing popularity of bitcoin and blockchain technology has got all the banking and financial institutions scouring for a piece of action in the industry. The electronic payments industry is one among them. Visa and MasterCard have been active in the sphere for a while now, supporting and working together with start-ups that are into this sector. Now we have a new entrant into the industry. American Express has decided to catch some action by extending its support to one of the bitcoin based remittance start-up, Abra.
Abra is a Silicon Valley based start-up that offers bitcoin remittance services over a peer to peer route. Founded by Bill Barhydt, Abra is said to be the world’s first peer to per money transfer network which doesn’t require intermediary banks or exchanges to transfer, receive or convert money across borders. The company works on a model where users can transfer money over Abra application by either paying it to an Abra teller in their location or connecting their credit/debit card to the account. The money will be sent across to the recipient as bitcoin, over the bitcoin network. Upon receiving money on Abra application, user can go to an Abra teller in the region and collect its equivalent in fiat currency. The network of Abra tellers create a trusted network who help users exchange the digital currency transferred over the platform to fiat currency. Abra doesn’t charge any transaction fee from the users except for a processing fee charged by individual tellers.
American Express’ investment in Abra comes at the same time as Abra’s latest expansion move. Abra recently announced that the company is starting its services in Philippines and the United States. The company has also announced its plans to enable merchants to receive digital cash payments using Abra application. Along with American Express, Ratan Tata, the former chairman of Tata Group, an Indian conglomerate has also pitched in to Abra’s Series A round of $12 million as strategic investment .
Some of the other investors in Abra includes Boost VC Digital Currency Group, 1st Round, Future Perfect Ventures, LHV, Liberty City ventures, MESA+, NYCA, Operative Capital, RRE Ventures and Silicon Badia.