Bitcoin application Abra was announced at Launch Festival on March 4th to disrupt a $550 billion global remittance market. Founder Bill Barhydt said that "Our mission with Abra is to turn every smartphone into a teller that processes withdrawals. This is not just another Bitcoin app...and you don't have to understand it." Abra seeks to be a fully peer-to-peer money transfer service without any middleman, banks, or money transmitter licenses.
How does Abra work? Abra allows people to become "tellers", in a similar way to how Uber allows people to become "drivers". When someone wants to transmit money, they can deposit funds into the Abra application using a debit card or directly give a teller cash. The teller acts as a gateway to help the user in withdrawing and depositing the transmitted money in cash. The person receiving the remitted funds finds a teller to withdraw the cash.
For example, let's say Bob is in the US and wants to send money back home to his wife, Alice, who is in Argentina. Bob opens his Abra app to find a teller, Carol. Bob hands Carol $200 dollars in cash and Carol processes the transaction, and Bob now has $200 in his account. Bob sends this $200 to Alice in Argentina. Alice is able to withdraw the funds in cash by finding a local teller, Carlos. Alice withdraws $200 in Argentinian pesos from Carlos using the Abra app.
Tellers that provide these services have a choice in how much they want to charge in fees. Abra will take a small cut based on this fee - if the teller decides not to charge a fee, then Abra will not take a fee. Money transferred will be denominated in US dollars.
While further technical details are still unknown, Abra's technology will use Bitcoin on the backend for transferring money. The money transferred from one user to another will use Bitcoin as the payment medium, without anyone realizing that they are using Bitcoin.
The Abra app is available for download on Android and iOS, but signing up for more information is all that is available at this time. While Abra looks promising as a money transferring app that is simple to use, we'll have to wait until release to see if this will be Bitcoin's "Killer App" in the remittance market.