Bitcoin China (BTCC) recently announced the launch of Mobi, a multicurrency wallet for smartphones running iOS and Android. In addition to allowing conversion between an unprecedented 154 currencies, the wallet offers instant money transfers to any Twitter account or mobile phone number, as well as an optional Visa debit card delivered to your door worldwide for US$9.
“Mobi is the only mobile app that allows instant conversion, storage, and transfer of more than 100 currencies, including the United States dollar, the British pound, the euro, gold, silver, and bitcoin.”
– Bitcoin China
BTC China is the oldest Bitcoin exchange still in service, and offers live exchange trading for Bitcoin and Litecoin as well as a major mining pool, business payment processing, and their own line of physical Bitcoins.
The Shanghai-based exchange has been in the news several times this year and was rumored to have been raided by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC). The rumour sent bitcoin’s price plummeting in the first week of the year, and turned out to be unfounded. The Bank and nearly all Bitcoin exchanges in the country have since agreed on a set of regulations.
The company is targeting several markets with this launch, from personal payments to remittances and bitcoin. BTCC recently stated, “we are taking bitcoin mainstream.” The app “simplifies cross-border payments” and “bypasses the 5-8 percent fees that banks charge for remittances.”
According to the announcement, BTC China has created its own blockchain for the app, which tracks all customer assets. Sending a few dollars to be received as yuan between customers is, therefore, a transfer of a blockchain asset, which gets instantly received.
Signing up for a Mobi wallet only takes one minute, according to a BTCC letter to customers. All a user has to do is download the app and enter a mobile phone number to install the program. At press time, GooglePlay Store shows over 1,000 installs with review rating of 4.2 by 13 users.
The app is said to be so easy to use that your grandmother can start using bitcoin today, and it allows users to add a message to any transaction. The wallet currently supports 15 languages, including English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, and Spanish.
“Making bitcoin as easy as texting – Mobi is a highly secure and versatile bitcoin wallet that brings next-generation UX to bitcoin users worldwide.”
The optional Visa debit card is linked to users’ Mobi accounts, and can pull funds directly from a bitcoin balance. The card can also be used to withdraw cash, “at more than 2 million Visa™-compatible ATMs around the world,” according to the Mobi website, and can make purchases at any point of sale that accepts Visa cards.
The card has fees that are on the low side, but with limits and minimums that add up. According to the website, USD denominated purchases with their Visa card are charged, “no transaction fees whatsoever,” although there is a monthly service fee of two dollars, and ATM transactions are a minimum of $2.50.
Foreign transaction fees at three percent, making the card less useful for traveling. If users have bitcoin in the account, it may be easy to avoid this fee by converting bitcoin to the local currency when needed. Payment fees are straightforward, a simple $2,500 cap on spending for unverified accounts. The limit increases to $20,000 per day after verification, with no lifetime or other limits.
There are two tiers of transactions, one for users that have only given their phone number, and another for those who have gone through a full verification process. The limits for non-verified users are $200 per ATM withdrawal only twice a day, with a lifetime limit of $1,000 on withdrawals. After verification, those limits jump up to $1,000 per transaction with no lifetime and daily limits.
According to Reddit user btcc_official, an account that has been used by BTCC’s CEO Bobby Lee in the past, the routing of money is different in Mobi than it is with competitors like Xapo, Coinbase Shift, and Bitpay debit cards. For simple payments, such as paying for something in dollars while you hold a dollar balance, the transaction is straightforward. “Mobi is different from Xapo in that we support 100+ currencies,” he explained, “so for the debit card, if you have money in your USD wallet, the card will deduct funds from the USD wallet for purchases.”
However, the company automatically converts from Bitcoin when you don’t have the correct currency in any account. “If you don’t have money in your USD wallet, we will automatically convert bitcoin into USD when you use your card,” the company representative explained.
Before they dropped Bitcoin support and all but exited the space in December, Circle Financial offered the closest service to Mobi, although with fewer currencies supported, and it attracted many customers just to buy bitcoins through the app. Both Circle and Mobi have a payments-through-chat interface and hail the in-chat experience with emojis the future way of payments.