The company has revealed its plans to utilize Costa Rica’s extensively adopted payment system, SINPE Movil, for facilitating Bitcoin exchanges.
By Pradeep Saran
16 September 2023, 02:25 PM
In a significant move amid the global expansion efforts of cryptocurrency companies, Bull Bitcoin, a Canadian Bitcoin exchange, has recently announced its entry into the Costa Rican market. Notably, this makes Bull Bitcoin the first Bitcoin-focused enterprise to leverage SINPE Movil, Costa Rica’s primary payment service provider, to offer a Bitcoin on-and-off-ramp.
Facilitated by a Bitcoin circular economy initiative known as the “Bitcoin Jungle,” users in Costa Rica can now seamlessly buy and sell Bitcoin with the country’s national currency, the colón, through the project’s dedicated digital wallet. To perform conversions between colónes and BTC, both Costa Ricans and tourists can easily download the Bitcoin Jungle wallet, create a username, and choose the SINPE Movil option.
SINPE Movil, which stands for the National System for Electronic Payments in Spanish, is operated by the Costa Rican Central Bank and shares similarities with Kenya’s M-Pesa. It enables users to send and receive money using mobile phone numbers, all in real-time.
Local reports indicate that over 60% of the country’s population utilizes this service, which, at one point, accounted for transactions equivalent to 17% of Costa Rica’s GDP. Unlike a standalone app, SINPE Movil functions as an interbank settlement service, similar to payment systems like Zelle in the United States or Interac in Canada.
Francis Pouliot, the founder and CEO of Bull Bitcoin, described the integration of SINPE Movil as a “game changer” due to its widespread adoption in Costa Rica. He emphasized the simplicity and speed of transactions, describing it as an “almost magical experience” that allows users to send money globally to Costa Rican phone numbers within seconds, at minimal cost.
Pouliot, a Canadian national who has resided in Costa Rica for three years, noted that the country enjoys a relatively high level of banking accessibility thanks to SINPE Movil.
For Lee Salminen, the founder of Bitcoin Jungle and Bull Bitcoin’s local partner, this collaboration provides a valuable opportunity to gain insights into the Latin American market. Being on the ground in Costa Rica allows the company to experiment and observe the real-time impact and adoption of their services.
Bitcoin Jungle has been instrumental in fostering a Bitcoin circular economy in what is referred to as Costa Rica’s Golden Triangle, comprising five communities: Dominical, Uvita, Ojochal, Platanillo, and Tinamaste. Their goal is to replicate the success of initiatives like Bitcoin Beach in El Salvador.
Pouliot concluded that the integration with SINPE Movil addresses a significant barrier to Bitcoin adoption in Costa Rica: the lack of infrastructure that enables businesses and individuals to seamlessly move funds between the Bitcoin network and the traditional financial system.