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The Roundtable: Can the Blockchain Transform Africa's Remittance Industry?

Cryptocurrency could reduce or eliminate fees that the world's poorest pay to receive money from abroad.

Despite the rapid technological advancements our world has seen over the past several decades, billions of people worldwide still live in conditions of poverty. It's not a simple question of self-efficacy and bootstraps: many lack access to basic tools that could alleviate their situations, from WiFi to dignified work. A panel of experts joined Roundtable to discuss a range of projects that seek to build wealth and economic inclusion in the U.S. and abroad. In this segment, they discuss how to bring resources and opportunities to the people who need them.

In this segment, the panel discusses how the blockchain can be used to revolutionize remittances.

Robert Chapman notes that payment services across the African continent, and particularly in Zimbabwe, currently make enormous profits off of remittances.

"Last year there was about 1.3 billion in remittances. Assuming the lowest percentages, about one percent in fees, these companies charged 130 million in fees to some of the poorest people in the world," he says.

In addition to their expense, those payment systems are often inefficient and inaccessible.

"If the cash is not available to collect at a Western union agent, they have to come back the next day or the day after that to get cash and stand in line," Chapman explains. He argues that those fees could go to better uses, and the blockchain could help cut them out.

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"Right now, to run every hospital in Zimbabwe costs 50 million a year. These companies took almost three times that," he says. "When I was at the Bitcoin conference, I wanted to really understand that piece of the equation. if we solve that, then we can start, looking and say, okay, how does that money go towards development? How can we get Zimbabweans to reinvest in their own country?"

Watch the full discussion below:

Patrick Robinson, CEO and Co-Founder, Pashko

Robert Chapman, Philanthropist and Entrepreneur

Jon Najarian, Co-Founder, Market Rebellion