BTCjam partners with Volabit to bring bitcoin loans to Mexico

volabit

Hola Jammers! We’ve got great news this morning… BTCjam is partnering with the leading Mexican Bitcoin exchange Volabit to bring our users from Mexico a superior Bitcoin experience.  Volabit users can now transfer funds and activate automatic payments all from BTCjam.com!  Lending bitcoin and gaining returns has never been easier, and Volabit users can now transfer their bitcoins to BTCjam without ever leaving the site. Together Volabit and BTCjam make borrowing and investing bitcoin in Mexico simple!

  • You can withdraw bitcoin seamlessly from Volabit without leaving BTCjam
  • Your automatic payments can withdraw from your Volabit wallet to make a payment
btcjamvolabit1

BTCjam and Volabit have partnered to make borrowing bitcoin in Mexico easier than ever.

BTCjam CEO Celso Pitta said, “I’m thrilled about our Volabit partnership.  Volabit integration will make BTCjam much easier to use for our customers in Mexico.”  Hannah Kim, Co-Founder of Volabit agrees, saying “BTCjam is one of the most exciting companies in Bitcoin and we’re delighted for how our new partnership makes bitcoin borrowing and lending easier for our customers.”

“Volabit integration will make BTCjam much easier to use for our customers in Mexico.” – BTCjam CEO, Celso Pitta

Get detailed instructions on how to connect your Volabit Wallet to BTCjam on the BTCjam Blog!  Once you have connected your Volabit wallet, you can easily transfer bitcoin to BTCjam and make automatic payments on your loan.  It’s just that easy.

Attention Bitcoin Wallet providers, we are looking to integrate additional wallets! Please contact us at partner@btcjam.com if you would like to partner with BTCjam.

About BTCjam BTCjam is the global leader in peer-to-peer lending using Bitcoin, and the first to offer a proprietary credit score to its users.  BTCjam’s disruptive credit model is changing the way borrowers and investors connect, providing a new path to financial freedom for users from more than 200 countries around the world. BTCjam promotes lending without borders, where people can borrow and lend bitcoins, without having to worry about banks and other intermediaries. Transactions are instantaneous, hassle free, and supported by an engaged, trusting global community.

About Volabit Volabit is the fastest and safest way to buy and sell Bitcoin in Mexico.  Founded in 2014, Volabit has more than 4,000 users and they have converted more than 24,000,000 pesos into Bitcoin. Volabit received venture funding from the Bitcoin Opportunity Corp and has been described as the “Coinbase of Mexico”. Check out Volabit at https://www.volabit.com

Borrower Story: Mombasa, Kenya

BTCJam was founded during the tail end of the global financial recession. Having experienced the impact of the recession in Brazil (a BRIC country) and seeing first hand the collapse of the banking system, the founder of BTCJam, Celso Pitta, realized that there needed to be an alternative source of lending. As a currency, bitcoin seemed to be the safest, easiest, cheapest, and most transparent way to achieve lending on an international scale.

The great recession that began in 2007 hit emerging economies like Brazil much harder than developed nations. Many emerging economies have colonial origins and, therefore, are more reliant on commodity prices. When the financial crisis hit its low point in 2008, developing countries were hit the hardest. Many of these countries were reliant on outside aid from the developed world. As international trade dramatically slowed and developed nations tightened their wallets, countries around the world experienced a devastating impact.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 4.22.18 PM
With over 50,000 users spanning across 180 countries, it is sometimes difficult to see how individuals at BTCJam are interconnected. On our platform, we have created a truly global peer-to-peer lending site through the power and technology of Bitcoin. The impact of the global recession serves as a reminder that the world is financially and economically intertwined. Borrowers and lenders at BTCJam can easily get bogged down in the micro managing of loan financing. At times, it is good to step back and see the broader picture of what we are accomplishing around the world.

In order to paint a clear picture of the global amalgam of borrowers and lenders, BTCJam has initiated a “Borrower Story” news segment. These stories are intended to weave a sort of “tapestry” of borrowers and show how they are interconnected in our global community. Often, BTCJam borrowers come from areas of the world with poorly functioning banking systems, rampant financial corruption, and lack of basic financial resources. Even in developed countries, borrowers can face many obstacles and red tape while trying to access fairly priced loans.

The BTCJam community members featured in the Borrower Story newsletter are all users who have been active on our website, have a unique story, and have paid back their loans in full. Borrowers at BTCJam take out loans for a variety of reasons. Many use their loans to fund small startup businesses; some have outstanding medical or credit card bills while others might be planning a big wedding for their bride to be. Whatever the reason, BTCJam has enabled micro lending in all corners of the world through the power of Bitcoin.

The first borrower we would like to feature in our news segment is Samuel from Kenya. Samuel lives in a small town close to the port city of Mombasa. With a loan from BTCJam, Samuel has been able to inject funding into his two small business ventures and create more financial stability.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 5.36.18 PM

While living in a fairly rural area, Samuel saw a growth opportunity for Internet related businesses. Samuel is a self-described “social entrepreneur” who “engages in small businesses that help low income earners.” Friends of Samuel describe him as “a go getter and a hardworking businessman.” With his loan from BTCJam, Samuel has funded his Internet café. Members of his community can use his business to “apply for jobs, complete tax IDs, connect on social media, and download government pay slips.” According to Samuel, “Kenyans in rural areas have almost no access to banking. Money transfers for food, medicine, or school fees are things that only city dwellers can attain…I like helping people and making good friends so I thought that an Internet café would benefit my town.”

d

Samuel also runs a metal welding business that provides jobs for the youth while encouraging creativity and innovation. Highly technical jobs like metal welding often require special parts to be ordered, which can become costly. Samuel explains, “My loan has allowed my workman to buy a grinder to quicken his work timelines in delivering customer orders. Previously he has [had] to use a hacksaw to cut metal before welding pieces together.” Samuel’s business has become essential to the community as many people rely on his business to fix metal doors, locks, and other heavy parts.

b

When asking Samuel why he turned to BTCJam as an alternative to the Kenyan banking system, he stated, “Kenyan banks charge higher interest rates about 20% and demand collateral for people who are informally unemployed like myself.” While Samuel has a bachelor’s degree in finance, he understands that the lending climate in Kenya is not ideal for small business owners. Instead of applying for a loan at a local Kenyan bank, Samuel took his search online. Samuel explains, “I was looking online for an affordable money transfer service. I saw Western Union, Moneygram, and bitcoins. I was a bit more curious to learn about bitcoin and how it worked. That is when I landed on BTCJam.” Samuel adds, “I would have not participated on BTCJam were it not for localbitcoins.com, which offers a liberal marketplace for bitcoins and affordable rates.” Samuel’s 60-day loan was repaid in full and was funded by 17 lenders from 10 different countries.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 3.45.19 PM

Loan demand is skyrocketing in African countries because of strong economic expansion. Much of this is spearheaded by China, which sees infrastructure and technology development as key growth areas. China has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in Africa to assure long-term food supplies for their own burgeoning population. This has created an economic boom and the emergence of a new, borrowing, consuming middle class. The World Bank and IMF have initiated major capital projects in Africa like dams and power infrastructure; meanwhile, Bill Gates has spent billions bringing Malaria and other diseases in Africa under control. Fewer sick people means a stronger economy.

Although Kenya has experienced a robust 4-5% GDP growth YoY, the country ranks as one of the least financially and politically transparent nations in the world. Poor government administration, weak property rights, and strict capital controls have prevented Kenya from achieving growth comparable to their neighbors. In Kenya, corruption remains very difficult to investigate and prosecute and as a result has created a sense of mistrust in the banking system. Although this is true, the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) has grown to the 4th largest capital exchange in Africa. Kenya has also joined the East African Community (EAC) organization, a partnership between Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. This organization has helped to create a common marketplace in East Africa and is modeled after the European Union.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.03.24 AM

The instability of the global financial system has created new avenues of affordable online financing. International bitcoin lending has picked up traction in the online community and BTCJam has been central in this financial revolution. Global peer-to-peer lending has enabled people in developing countries to become entrepreneurs and has allowed many of them access to fairly priced loans for the first time in their lives. As we move forward with the Borrower Story news segments, readers will be able to see the diverse undertakings and business ventures of BTCJam users.

Untangling Peer-To-Peer Lending, Crowdfunding, and Microlending

In my previous post, I provided a short overview of the evolution of the lending space and the role of banks herein. Over the past years, especially as a result of the financial crisis and arising regulations, banks have pulled back from issuing loans. This has paved the way for alternative financing solutions like Peer-to-Peer lending, crowd-funding and micro-lending.

The most significant similarity between these three services is that there is no involvement of traditional financial institutions. In this post I will discuss their most important features, explain which markets they serve, and show what their key differences are.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

The core concept of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending is a that a group of investors lend to one person or business without the interference of traditional financial institutions. Usually the investors are individuals who are not related to and do not know the borrower. The development of the internet has enabled this new form of lending: an online marketplace that completely facilitates the loan transaction.

An interesting trend in the P2P Lending space is the increased participation of institutional investors and banks. P2P Lending companies can operate more efficiently thanks to the use of new technologies and less overhead cost, thereby making these marketplaces very interesting for both borrowers and investors. According to Charles Moldow, a partner at Foundation Capital, P2P Lending Platforms have a 400 basis point advantage compared to traditional banks.

A notable player in the field in Europe is Zopa (located and operating in the UK). In the United States, LendingClub and Prosper are the first P2P lending platforms who service the US market. Funding Circle and OnDeck also facilitate small business loans through their marketplaces.

A new and truly unique P2P Lending platform is our company, BTCJam! By using bitcoin as a transaction protocol and a global credit-scoring model, BTCJam is the only P2P lending company that operates worldwide.

 

Crowdfunding

Crowd-funding is based on the same principle as P2P Lending: funding takes place by a group of investors. There are significant differences between the two:

First, crowd-funding is typically used for specific projects or ideas and not for personal loans. The second distinct difference is that investors who contribute to a project do not get interest–instead they’ll receive rewards, special perks, or gifts. For example, they may get the first release of an album or the product they supported.

A new development within the crowd-funding industry is the so-called “Equity-Based” crowd-funding: as a reward, investors receive unlisted shares of the company. Equity crowd-funding has been a popular way of raising capital for companies in Europe and Australia for several years. In the United States, equity crowd-funding is only accessible for accredited investors, but this could change soon based on the JOBS Act. The JOBS Act would let non-accredited investors gain access to equity crowd-funding which would dramatically expand the possibility for startups and entrepreneurs to raise capital. Seedrs is an Equity crowd-funding marketplace that operates only in Europe and has been very successful.

A well-known crowd-funding platform is Kickstarter; people have pledged over $1 billion, funding 65,000 projects. Kickstarter is not equity crowd-funded, which prohibits individuals from making long term equity on the products they invest in.

 

Microlending

The main goals of micro-lending are to financing poverty stricken areas of the world and reach underbanked communities. The loan amount is usually very small and the purpose of the loan is usually for personal use. Many of these loans help to finance medical bills, small businesses, education, and agricultural development.

In P2P lending and crowd-funding, there are multiple investors contributing to the loan, whereas in micro-lending, you often see that also the borrowers team up. Loans are provided to a group of people who will vouch for each other, thereby, minimizing the risk of default.

The first micro-lending initiatives did not have profitability as a driver, but over the years some micro-lending institutions have argued that doing good shouldn’t stand in the way of making profit. Opinions remain divided on the subject.

Grameen Bank is one of the first and leading Microcrediting organizations. Besides micro-lending it also offers other financial services. Kiva created an online marketplace to connect investors with borrowers in developing countries. Kiva works with local field partners who assess, distribute, and monitor the loans.

In the chart below I summarized the characteristics of the three financing solutions. The alternatives to traditional banking loans all serve different markets and it’s strongly recommended to research which solution suits your needs.

image – Isabelle de Clercq