Coinverse has launched a new bitcoin banking platform that aims to bring consumer and merchant bitcoin transactions and bitcoin bill payment to the broader Latin American market.
The Brazil-based startup sees an unmet demand for user-friendly bitcoin solutions, asserting that its domestic competitors are better catered to experienced bitcoin users and speculative traders.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Coinverse financial director Safiri Felix estimated that more than 90% of Brazilians that buy bitcoin view the technology as an investment. As such, he argues there are few existing services that seek to utilize bitcoin’s underlying technology as a way to transfer value.
“We wanted to create something that let would us reach the regular user – not just the speculative users and traders,” he said, adding:
“We’re trying to make bitcoin accessible to mainstream people.”
Settling boletos in bitcoin
The Coinverse platform gives users in the Brazilian market buy and sell utility, but also provides them the opportunity to pay off their boletos bancários using bitcoin.
A boleto bancário is a government-issued financial document comparable to an invoice. Consumers may select this payment option when making online purchases. The boleto specifies an amount of money owed to the merchant, to be paid within a certain period of time.
Boletos can be paid through online banking, or in person at any bank, banking agency, supermarket, post office or other merchant client registered to accept boleto payments.
Now, customers can also submit their boletos to Coinverse and pay them in bitcoin. In turn, Coinverse will pay the issuing merchant the owed amount in fiat currency.
Solving merchant adoption
Felix also views merchants as essential to wider bitcoin adoption in Brazil, and aims to offer a processing solution to these customers.
“Here in Brazil, we have the need to encourage merchant adoption,” he said. “That’s the reason we decided to implement the solution with boleto. Because with this solution, the Brazilian consumer can buy almost anything over Internet commerce and pay using bitcoins, if not directly.”
Until the recent entrance into this market by competitor BitInvest and now Coinverse, however, he said that there had yet to be a compelling service that could encourage these businesses to get involved with bitcoin.
He added that he believes Latin American merchants are curious about adopting bitcoin, but surmised that many are waiting for bigger companies to move first on the initiative.
A consumer-friendly approach
Felix pointed to spending statistics that suggest Brazilians do much of their shopping abroad as evidence that bitcoin could become a compelling solution for domestic commerce.
Further, he believes that when bitcoin is more broadly accepted as a currency worldwide, users will begin to buy it before traveling or purchasing goods and services abroad, creating demand in Brazil.
Before the launch of its universal service, Coinverse operated a bitcoin ATM manufactured by Genesis Coin. However, the company has no immediate plans to launch a wider network of these machines.
Rather, Coinverse sought to use its ATM a means of meeting and becoming acquainted with bitcoin community members, with whom they could discuss how to best position a bitcoin solution for the general consumer market.
“Our focus is to expand the market and to make digital currencies more friendly.”