Indonesia Bitcoin & the unbundling of the remittances market 

So far we have looked at relatively small countries in our Alternative Bitcoin Capital tour. Indonesia is not small however you cut it:

  • population; 256 million (close to America in size)
  • GDP #16 in world between Mexico and Netherlands.

Indonesia is exciting for business because of those Asian GDP growth rates – at 5.8% this is almost double most countries in the West.

This is the story that prompted me to find out what is happening with Bitcoin in Indonesia.

“Residents of Indonesia can now buy and receive bitcoin over the counter at over 10,000 ‘Indomaret’ convenience stores around the country.

The project was developed on the initiative of Bitcoin Indonesia and will run through its exchange Bitcoin.co.id in partnership with payment processor iPaymu.”

That matters because of Remittances. Jakarta Post has the details:

“Indonesia received US$7.2 billion from around 6.5 million migrant workers overseas in 2012, the World Bank said in a recent report.

The figure was equal to about 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, making Indonesia the third-largest recipient of remittances in Southeast Asia”

If you remit via Bitcoin, those 10,000 stores are your off ramp where the recipients can get Indonesian Rupiah for spending. It is a natural for the Indomart stores – they get foot traffic.

Read that and weep Western Union.

We are seeing the unbundling of the remittances market:

  • the on ramp are Bitcoin ATMs where you put in Fiat and get back Bitcoin.
  • transmittal is via the open Bitcoin network.
  • the off ramp is via mass market retail in the recipient country, which is where the Indomart story is significant. This is like M-Pesa but better (more open and permissionless).

From a single company/brand controlling the end-to-end experience, Remittances is becoming unbundled to an ecosystem.