Making Bisq accessible to the 2 billion unbanked, through MPESA agency model


I have a suggestion that could make Bisq the most popular exchange for the 2 billion people worldwide who are unbanked. I would love to discuss this in detail, as I have researched this a lot, but for now here is the idea in summary:

  1. There are over 2 billion people unbanked, and a further billion or more that don’t have KYC attributes (like IDs) even though they have wealth. Andreas Antonopoulos does a good job summarising it here:

And so does this article:

The world’s 2 billion unbanked, in 6 charts

  1. By employing a model known as “agency banking”, bisq can enable independent ‘agents’ to be the bridge that onboards the unbanked into the crypto space. Image, for example, a small pharmacy or restaurant in Kenya, India, China, Sudan, even USA, has a bank account, and they connect that bank account to bisq as normal. Their local customers can then deposit/withdraw local fiat via this restaurant or pharmacy. The phramacy gets a small trading fee. And bisq provides a mechanism that enables that agency function so that the customers can have their own wallet confirmation that is between them and the agent, while the agent has a wallet confirmation between them and the bisq network of other traders.

This model has been proven very successfully in Kenya by a company called Safaricom, with a product called MPESA. MPESA’s agency banking model was so successful that now 32% of Kenya’s GDP passes through this system. Here are some docs on that:

I know this sounds like breaking the whole point of peer to peer privacy, but you have to have lived in non-western developed countries (which is the majority of the world) to understand that the typical rice farmer, for example, wont be able to download java clients on laptops (they dont use laptops, only smart phones) and they wont likely have the kind of bank account we expect, yet they will have wealth, and will like bitcoin. So if they can find a solution that works simply on a smart phone, and they can on board using their local trusted shop owner friend or where they eat, then you really open up the world to crypto!

What do you think about this?




As I understand your suggestion, this can already be done, by that agent simply trading on behalf of traders.

If I understand this idea, this is simply asking for a central exchange that trades on Bisq, which is something I always imagined will be the case to some extent.
You can simply be the middle man by buying and selling on Bisq and then trading with people in your local area with cash.

When API is fully developed and implemented, this should be possible to do automatically.


Yes, thats it, thank you very much for your reply. This is great news. Roughly when will the API be fully developed and implemented, roughly?


I don’t really know. I think @mrosseel is developing it.


The API is already implemented and partly used. @mrosseel is the lead dev of the API.
As @alexej996 mentioned your suggestion can already be used in a manual setup. Some pro traders can play the role of a custodian for others who don’t have the technical and financial requirements to use Bisq directly.
As that model loses a lot of the core principles of Bisq (non custodial, privacy protecting,…) I don’t see such as a core project for Bisq but definitely see that others can build on top of it - that cannot be avoided anyway.
Another concern I have is what that model adds to the market leader in that area - LocalBitcoins? They have already bootstrapped markets in many countries and offer a wide range of payment possibilities and are web-based. What do you see would a user gets benefit when using a custodial wrapper based on Bisq? Bootstrapping the market is a serious challenge.
All that said I would love to see such features, just wanted to point out the concerns and add some critical perspective.