Key Points of Emphasis

  • Mexican immigrants must rely on extremely expensive third parties to send cross-border payments to Mexico.
  • Mexican immigrants and their families have high barriers of access for long-term investment and savings opportunities.

The name ReMexa is derived from the Spanish word for "remittance" which is 'remesa'. We wanted to create something cool with Ethereum. How can we create access to more opportunities for people? How can we empower the individual directly? One of our team members, Alvaro, is from Mexico and is well aware of the state of the current infrastructure now used to send cross-border payments from the United States to Mexico; it is costly, slow, at times predatory, and the market is owned mainly by one player: Western Union. Players like WU charge ridiculous fees for a slow, bad and extremely expensive service - one that only involves a money transfer of a negligible amount to a land-neighbor country. So immigrant workers in the US quickly became our primary end-users and we started developing the system with them in mind, knowing they have extreme barriers of entry to good money-transfer systems. Families in Mexico rely, sometimes almost exclusively, on money that is sent to them from the US - most of the time on a weeky to bi-weekly paycheck basis. Continuous re-sending of funds across the international border can incur heavy added up fees, especially when going through players like Western Union, who charge an average of 8% off the top. These negligible amounts sent, usually ranging from $50 to $200 per transaction, are spent quickly for basic necessities needed by the Mexican families. If we could find a way to reduce the burden of continuous cost for the immigrant worker while at the same time subscribing them to investment opportunities for long term financial freedom, wouldn't that be win-win-win? We are looking to empower these individuals with access to more opportunities. We want these individuals and families to be able to opt out of this dystopian cycle of perpetual poverty.

What ReMexa does

Key Functions of ReMexa : Direct Financial Empowerment

  1. Low-fee international remittances.
  2. Low barriers of entry.
  3. Forced long-term savings.
  4. Access to investment markets to grow funds.
  5. Complete user autonomy over funds.

ReMexa is a multi-layered system, proposed as a webApp, of direct financial empowerment to the user. Using a combination of database technologies such as MongoDB and the Ethereum blockchain, ReMexa is a system that provides a platform for fast and extremely cheap cross-border payments to Mexico from the United States. This is the main function of the system: send x amount of dollars from the US to Mexico. Though this is where the system starts to get truly interesting... every time the user interacts with this basic function of ReMexa, a small (less than current competitors) part of their fee is automatically subscribed into a long-term low-yield low-risk savings portfolio meant to mature after a certain time. In this way, we are literally forcing users to partake in safe and responsible investment practices. So, each time the user sends a payment, they are increasing their stake in their portfolio and thus investing more and more towards their future and that of their family's. How? Smart contract functionality built into the heart of the system takes care of the cross-border payments as well as separating portfolio savings, gain and interest.

The model works this way:

  1. User deposits cash into a physical node station (ATM, convenience store, etc).
  2. User is credited with equivalent value in their app interface.
  3. Money is immediately deposited into large investment pool of low to medium risk asset investments.
  4. small % fee is set aside for long term storage in investment fund
  5. The user sends their account credits to a receiving account end in Mexico.
  6. The recipients withdraw the funds whenever they choose to. This gives them power to measure the market exchange rates.
  7. this triggers the smart contract functionality: once withdrawn is opted, smart contract immediately converts USD into ETH, transfers the funds to receiving account, account uses Bitso (prominent Mexican crypto exchange) API to convert ETH to USD or Pesos.
  8. Users withdraw cash from accounts using banks or convenience store node recipients.
  9. Value accrued over time in investment fund is accredited back to original user account for use.

How we built ReMexa

Our tech stack is: Solidity, MongoDB, ReactJS, Bootstrap, CSS, and HTML. We used the Remix IDE provided by the Ethereum foundation for testing of the smart contracts.

Challenges we ran into

Since Solidity is such a (relatively) new language, documentation on the Internet is extremely scarce and it is very hard to debug issues. We ran into multiple challenges over the weekend. First, we had to make multiple smart contracts before we arrived at our current design. Next, our GIT syncing had some serious glitches, causing people to be running different and older versions of our code. We didn't have enough time or resources to dedicate to appropriate market research.

Accomplishments that we’re proud of

We are extremely proud of our functioning smart contract and web3 interactions. This connection was 'the antagonist' of our weekend, and when we made it happen, it was extremely rewarding.

What we learned

We are young and idealistic but we developed a resentment for players like Western Union that have predatory practices and feed off the backs of poor immigrants. We want to provide a better solution.

What's next for ReMexa

  • Testing! Lots of it. Moving testing to Truffle, a framework for testing Solidity smart contracts.
  • Market research!! Lots and lots of it. How can we build this system specifically for these immigrant populations that most need it? As a Mexican living in the United States, I would like to ______.
  • Economic empowerment research - the opportunities we are providing are truly unique.
  • Develop the webApp fully.
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