Lorien Gamaroff and Elon Musk share quite a few similarities—they both have South African origins, and they both started with a vision of making payments easier and cheaper over the Internet. The Centbee founder is still hard at work on the latter, and as he told CoinGeek Backstage, the BSV wallet is growing beyond Africa and impacting lives globally.
“Elon got his start building his payment company on this innovative technology called the Internet – that’s exactly what I’ve been doing…If he can build spaceships today, I think that’s very much my future,” he told CoinGeek Backstage host Jon Southurst.
The Bitcoin industry is not short of wallets. Centbee sets itself apart by focusing on adoption and actual day-to-day usage. Starting in Johannesburg, South Africa, the wallet has taken an innovative approach to onboard its users, integrating local retailers who seamlessly load Centbee wallets for the users.
“Since the early days of hearing about Bitcoin, and it being cash, I’ve been wanting to find ways to get it in the hands of the people so that they can easily acquire Bitcoin and then easily spend it. That’s been my focus for the last 12 years,” Lorien noted.
Starting out in South Africa presented unique challenges, but for Lorien, he spotted opportunities. Since he knew retailers wouldn’t be willing to change their payment systems, he introduced retail credits and gift cards into Centbee. This has opened up thousands of retail outlets stretching from South Africa to the United Kingdom, India to the United States.
Growing beyond Africa
As Lorien likes to say, “Our roots are in Africa but we are everywhere,” and indeed, the company is gaining a big user base beyond its home continent. In the Philippines, it has integrated the very popular mobile wallet GCash, making it easy for users to spend their Bitcoin.
With this integration, Centbee opened up an entirely new market, with Filipinos abroad remitting money back to their home country. Moreover, the users don’t need to know about or even like Bitcoin.
“Once you start using Centbee, this whole idea of using Bitcoin becomes completely feasible to those people who typically wouldn’t be using Bitcoin because they thought it was too complex. We’ve made it really simple,” he said.
Lorien, together with fellow co-founder Angus Brown, have built Centbee to be more than just a wallet. As he pointed out, it has borrowed a lot from social media platforms, aiming to make Centbee “a social network app where the media is money.” This positions the wallet in a prime position to target people who previously were averse to Bitcoin.
Many Bitcoin payment applications face one big challenge—price fluctuations—but not Centbee. Lorien noted that BSV isn’t a speculative asset for most of its users. Instead, they only hold the BSV for as long as they need to before making a payment or sending it to friends and family in other countries. As such, by holding it for short amounts of time, their Bitcoin doesn’t lose much value.
Remittance is a big business for Centbee. However, for the longest time, the company has handled the remittance aspects under a different infrastructure in Minit Money. Earlier this year, Lorien announced at the BSV Global Blockchain Convention that remittance was now integrated into Centbee.
With this expansion, Centbee now supports remittances from any part of the world, not just in African corridors as it was with Minit Money. The recipients also don’t need to know anything about Bitcoin and can have it deposited directly into their bank accounts or even mobile wallets. This makes Bitcoin plumbing for a robust financial system, just like Satoshi Nakamoto always intended.
Watch: BSV Global Blockchain Convention presentation, BSV for Retail Payments, Remittances & Rewards