Bitwage, a member of Plug and Play’s Bitcoin Accelerator, is the simplest way to get into crypto currency. Their solution leverages the Bitcoin platform to bring modern financial tools to the people who need it the most.
According to the 2013 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, 7.7 percent of households in the United States were unbanked in 2013. This proportion represents nearly 10 million Americans currently living without access to a bank account. Unbanked citizens of the US are restricted to cash transactions and have no secure means of storing their savings.
As stated in the description of My Wallet, a Bitcoin wallet service with nearly 3 million registered users, a major inherent advantage of Bitcoin is that it enables users to ‘be their own bank.’ By signing up for a bitcoin wallet, anyone with access to SMS messaging can instantly receive bitcoins to be stored in their wallet or sent anywhere in the world. As such, it stands to reason that crypto currency could represent the most viable and cost-efficient alternative to cash hidden in mattresses for unbanked Americans.
According to Bitwage co-founder Jonathan Chester, “Bitcoin is a way to bring modern financial tools to the unbanked and underbanked all around the world. Most of the millions of Americans that are underbanked have access to SMS technology, but they do not have access to ways to buy goods and services other than cash.”
While crypto currency represents a possible solution for Americans unable to attain traditional bank accounts, the process of obtaining bitcoins is a lengthy one that often makes new users averse to adoption. Understanding this, Bitwage’s founders devised a ‘frictionless’ way for unbanked Americans to take advantage of crypto currency: Bitcoin Payroll.
To sign up for what Bitwage calls ‘Bitcoin Payroll for the Individual,’ users simply need to list Bitwage’s checking account as a secondary destination for their direct deposit wage payments. In doing so, employees enable Bitwage to receive a set percentage of their paycheck to be immediately converted to Bitcoin and distributed to their wallet of choice the next day. By accepting a portion of their paycheck in bitcoin, unbanked customers gain access to a completely secure way to store, send, and receive money. Bitwage’s platform employs the mechanism behind Bitcoin to provide these tools to those who would otherwise be restricted to cash savings and transactions.
Bitwage’s team joined Plug and Play with the second batch of our Bitcoin Accelerator that launched just this past month. According to Chester it has been a “great opportunity” for them as it’s “all about bringing corporations and startups together.”
Plug and Play Bitcoin provides seed-funding, mentorship and acceleration to startups and first-time entrepreneurs to help them bring to market the next disruptive solution for the growing worldwide economy. Our global network of advisors & mentors help startups further their product development & prepare them to present to Silicon Valley’s top investors.
Plug and Play’s Fintech & Security accelerator will supplement our most recent batch of Bitcoin startups. The program is focused on connecting corporations with early stage companies in the areas of mobile payments, consumer engagement, data analytics, and cloud & security.