Australian digital currency platform igot.com has launched the first bitcoin exchange online platform in the United Arab Emirates.
This will enable users to save up to seven to eight per cent in international transaction costs and currency exchange, according to a company statement.
This is a significant move for the Australian company and its plans of tapping into the UAE's reported $25 billion remittance payments market.
Of the UAE's population of 9.2 million, expats are said to make up nearly 85 per cent (7.8 million), and are largely responsible for the solid growth of remittances from this, the second largest Arab country.
In 2013 alone, it is reported that expats remitted more than $15 billion from the UAE.
The UAE is a tax-free zone and the Government is proposing a tax on money leaving the country, making compliance a complicated process for any new brokerage entering the market.
Igot co-founder, Rick Day, said the UAE was a natural next step in the comany's expansion.
"Millions of foreign workers are making daily remittance payments back home to family but are incurring a significant cost -- at around 10 per cent per transaction," he said.
"Igot's platform now offers a solution, enabling users to make real-time trades at a fraction of the cost.
He said Bitcoin was increasingly being recognised as a cheaper and near-instant method of sending money.
"With more than seven million expats in the UAE, combined with the UAE being one of the world's wealthiest economies, this will be an interesting market for us with significant growth opportunities," he said.
The news follows the launch of igot.com in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and India between February and May this year.
In June, it announced Jesse Chenard, US entrepreneur and co-founder of Tremor Video, as a major investor and advisor.
In less than two months, igot.com became the largest digital currency exchange platform, in terms of trade volume, in both India and New Zealand, according to a company statement.
Founded by Australian internet entrepreneur Rick Day and New York attorney Patrick Manasse, and head-quartered in Australia, igot.com is a one-stop shop to buy, sell, send and request cryptocurrencies.
Since its launch, igot has already processed more than $25 million in trades.
It is also one of few digital currency platforms to feature BPAY and direct debit facilities.
In July, igot launched Future Trade, a feature that enables traders to overcome price volatility by automating future 'buys' or 'sells', allowing users to set their price expectations.
More than 10,000 trades have been executed by Bitcoin users via Future Trade, a number that is expected to grow as users increasingly realise its value in market as a solution to addressing fluctuations in price.
The company also has plans to continue its growth globally -- through Asia and Europe this year -- and expects to launch additional cryptocurrencies in the coming 12 months.
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