What the Heck is a BitMinute

“Would a $5 loan help improve your life? It may not, but for billions of people around the world, it could be the right amount of cash to get them out of poverty.”

So started a recently published article in Total Prestige Magazine containing an interview with Tom Meredith, the CEO of P2P Cash Technology and the creative force behind the development of BitMinutes, which will be introduced to the world in January through an ICO.

You can find that interview here:

Tom has been working to create affordable methods to exchange value using peer-to-peer networks for over a decade, and in recent years forged a blockchain-based solution that dramatically lowers the cost of transferring money between mobile phones. Initially intent on creating a money transfer start-up to disintermediate the legacy money transfer players, with their high overheads and lots of middlemen to pay, Tom eventually spotted the key source of value that could really turn the financial services industry in emerging economies on their collective heads: Prepaid Airtime Minutes.

In developed countries, we all now have unlimited data plans on our mobile phones. We pay one fixed price and get all the minutes we want to talk, text or surf. In less-developed countries, this is still not the case, and won’t be for many years. Most people pay-as-they go for airtime minutes. When they run out, they have find a local or “corner” agent for their mobile operator, and fork over cash to “top up” their phone account with more minutes.

The ubiquity of these minutes residing in, and perhaps building up in, people’s phones in each economy naturally led to the desire to use the minutes for something other that phone calls. Consumers found them useful to pay small debts owed to friends and family in systems that allowed exchanging minutes between phone accounts of the same mobile operator (as could happen in Kenya through the M-Pesa network). In addition, the mobile operator might soon allow the minutes to be used to pay bills to vendors who connect to the operator’s billing system.

Very quickly, we have an informal currency gaining acceptance as a method of value exchange!

Limitations remain, though, to having prepaid airtime minutes become a universal currency.

1. You cannot convert the prepaid minutes back into cash. That is a one-way street.

2. You cannot send minutes to a phone account on a different operator’s network.

Enter the concept of the BitMinute, which could be bought for prepaid minutes, stored in a mobile-phone wallet (mWallet) and traded with anyone else with a BitMinutes mWallet. You can also sell the BitMinute for cash through a local agent (perhaps the same corner agent selling prepaid minutes.)

With this simple switch, the prepaid minute is now a real currency, and the owners have an asset of real value.

In addition, their management of the BitMinute account can be tracked, and used to build a credit history that could qualify the consumer for a microloan at favorable rates. This is critical, because access to credit is the key that will unlock the economic engine, the animal spirits if you will, of the billions of people stuck in underserved, cash-starved economies.

This is why Tom describes BitMinutes as the missing link between the unreliably volatile Bitcoin on one side, and micro-credit and money transfer services on the other. Hence his mantra that BitMinutes is “better than Bitcoin for Billions.” It works for un-banked consumers who can transact this new cryptocurrency directly on their cellphones. “BitMinutes are a hybrid between Bitcoin, mobile credit and money transfers, combining the best of both worlds, all through cellphones which are rapidly spreading to every isolated community on the planet,” says Tom.

In the Total Prestige Magazine interview, the writer summed up the BitMinute mission like this: To help consumers in lower-income, underserved communities achieve the financial security they desire, to put them on the path to being more secure. With security comes the pursuit of higher aspirations, and economic risk-taking, with fewer rent-seekers siphoning off the profits through straight theft or less obvious forms of corruption.

So, to conclude, this is what the heck a BitMinute is:

The first cryptocurrency backed by an asset used by billions of consumers every day: Pre-paid cell phone minutes. BitMinutes facilitate free money transfer and guaranteed credit to the billions who are un-banked, unlocking the value stored in their cell phones. BitMinutes also turn the corner retailer into the corner banker, providing retailers with the chance to earn new financial services revenue, while improving the lives of their neighbors with access to affordable credit previously unavailable to them.

If you need more information, head on over to BitMinutes.com.

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