Money Transfer Industry Update - Vouchr, the RBC on Cryptocurrencies, and FoxConn Invests in Abra

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Marisa Fasciano
Content Specialist
Marisa is a communications consultant based in New York with a background in social research, diversity education, and nonprofit development.  She has lived and traveled abroad extensively… Read more

Vouchr Brings Social Integration Capabilities to Major Canadian Bank

Rob Balahura, founder of Toronto-based Vouchr, believes that social integration is the next big thing for money transfer providers.  Vouchr’s platform enhances the payment experience by adding a fun, community-building layer to an otherwise utilitarian exchange.  It complements, rather than competes with, mobile payment apps.  “We consider money transfer between two people as another form of communication,” said Balahura. “This opens up a big vision to deliver new social experiences alongside basic money transfer.”

Vouchr recently brought onboard a major Canadian bank and anticipates increasing demand from other large financial institutions, as well as from smaller players in the money transfer industry, as they seek to stand out from the fierce competition.  Now users of the Canadian bank’s mobile wallet app can link a money transfer to a merchant location anywhere in the country (the recipient must physically go there to unlock the funds), thus taking advantage of a convenient alternative to regular gift cards. Vouchr’s platform contains other, millennial-pleasing challenges for unlocking payments, such as completing a game, taking a particular picture, and meeting friends at a specified location.

Royal Bank of Canada CEO Highlights the Downside of Cryptocurrencies


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Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) CEO David McKay recently expressed concerns about the potential use of cryptocurrencies for criminal activity, such as money laundering and the financing of terrorism.  In an interview with CNBC, McKay called for stricter supervision over transactions involving this revolutionary form of money.  He does not consider cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin essential to society, at least at this time, but his opinion of the underlying blockchain technology is more positive, claiming it could eventually “transform everything from our capital markets and our trading businesses, our security settlement businesses, right into our retail franchise.”  Despite its wariness about digital currencies, the RBC has experimented with transferring Canada’s digital fiat currency, CAD-coin, with Ethereum.  


Interested in the pros and cons of cryptocurrencies?  Read our Bitcoin guide.


FoxConn Leads Series B Round for Bitcoin Money Transfer App 

At last week’s Money2020 conference in Las Vegas, the Bitcoin remittance app Abra (read our review) announced completion of a $16 million Series B round of financing, which brings the total capital raised to over $30 million.  The round was spearheaded by manufacturing juggernaut FoxConn, which is known for churning out iPhones and parenting the Sharp home appliance brand.  FoxConn’s investment is its first in a Bitcoin-focused company, and at least part of the firm’s interest stems from a potential new use case:   financing for consumers who can’t afford to buy a manufactured product, such as a dishwasher or television, outright.  

Jack Lee, founder and managing partner of Foxconn’s venture capital arm, HCM International, envisions Abra transforming credit services.  Abra’s micropayment and smart contract capabilities, as well as the security features of blockchain technology, can streamline the financing and repayment process and make it more inclusive of underserved consumers.  “We foresee a whole new market growing in this area of consumer asset finance," stated Abra CEO Bill Barhydt.  While FoxConn hasn’t committed to implementing Barhydt’s plan, it shares his optimism about the market.  Lee realizes that "companies can make more money from delivering the [financial] service than just from making margins on the hardware."


What's the future of international payments?  Read our interview with Abra CEO Bill Barhydt.

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