Abra is a platform that supports investing in 30 cryptocurrencies and 50 fiat currencies, spread over 155 countries. Now, a new announcement shows that Abra is crossing new boundaries as their platform will allow users to apply Bitcoin to investments in traditional stocks and ETFs.
Overall, this move could make it possible for Abra to evolve into a global crypto bank, according to CEO Bill Barhydt. In a statement to Cheddar, Barhydt said,
“Consumers in Mexico, India, China, Southeast Asia [and] parts of Europe are completely shut out of Western investing. There are 100,000 investment accounts in all of Mexico for tens of millions of people. This makes no sense. Our mission is to democratize financial services and we’ve figured out how to do that using this cool crypto blockchain based technology … it works in 155 countries because we don't have to be some SEC-brokered dealer because of the way this technology works.”
The hope that Abra would be able to achieve this goal has been frequently expressed by Barhydt, allowing users to be their own custodians of money in any type of asset they hold. The program allows for investing, transferring, and even credit between parties, while traditional banking systems still lack the borderless nature that cryptocurrency has achieved.
Most of the roadblocks have come up against have to do with the changing regulatory requirements between markets.
Right now, Abra’s user interface is designed as a smart contract platform that offers the option to lock in Bitcoin to the value of the asset chosen by the user, rather than just tokenizing an asset. As such, Abra does not require a license, because it doesn’t act as a holder of customer funds in any sense.
“From the consumer’s perspective they can basically invest in SPDRs, ETFs, Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, without actually having to understand the complexity, without actually having to go through the process of buying the security,” Barhydt said.
Consumers have to start with at least $5 on investment, and the user gets a free pass on fees for the whole of 2019.
Right now, the big concern is whether customers can handle essentially being in charge of being their own banks. One major hurdle being dealt with in the crypto industry is the QuadrigaCX case, in which the founder passed away with all of his passkeys and cold wallets encrypted, leaving customers in the cold while Canadian courts attempt to fix the situation.
Barhydt, however, is confident that customers can handle the responsibility for themselves through the Abra opportunity. He said,
“We believe consumers are ready to effectively take their smartphone and have a WhatsApp for money. That’s really our vision: a single smartphone app globally that allows any consumer to do myriad financial services from investing to credit, getting access to instant loans, global money transfer. Our mission is to make that app available to billions of users.” He added, “We’re on a mission to keep rolling out financial services until we really have that Whats App for money.”