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What is Abra?
Abra is more than just a cryptocurrency wallet, and more than just an exchange.
It aims to be an all-in-one tool for helping you manage your crypto and fiat currencies however you want from the convenience of your phone.
Firstly, it’s a cryptocurrency mobile app that also allows you to buy and sell cryptocurrency directly through its wallet — 28 cryptocurrencies and over 50 fiat currencies at the time of writing.
It also works as a money transfer app, letting you quickly and easily send funds to others and switch your balance between any of the supported fiat and cryptocurrencies on demand.
What sets Abra apart?
With Abra, all your balances of any currency on the app (with the potential exceptions of BCH and LTC) are actually being held as bitcoin. When you choose to denominate certain parts of your account as different currencies, these are then fixed to that price rather than bitcoin’s price.
Let’s take a look at an example
Sarah is holding one bitcoin worth $5,000 in her account.
- If bitcoin’s price falls by 50%, Sarah will still have one bitcoin, but it will now be worth $2,500.
- If bitcoin’s price rises by 50%, Sarah will still have one bitcoin but it will now be worth $7,500.
Jim is also holding one bitcoin worth $5,000 in his account, except he chooses to convert his entire account to US dollars.
- If bitcoin’s price falls by 50% Jim will now have two bitcoins, but they’ll still be worth $5,000.
- If bitcoin’s price rises by 50%, Jim will now have 0.66 bitcoin in his account, but it will still be worth $5,000.
This is how it works for all of the crypto and fiat currencies currently on offer through Abra. It’s all bitcoin, but you can choose how you want it denominated, and send and receive it as whichever supported currency you like.
Why does Abra use this system?
Abra uses this unique system because it can provide people quicker, cheaper and more complete control over their money.
By using bitcoin as a base, you can exchange money without going through money changers, and you can send and receive money without transacting via traditional banking networks or other money transfer providers.
It also lets Abra automate this system using smart contracts. These are capable of automatically handling bitcoin’s price changes to create cost savings in other ways.
Using bitcoin as its base is how Abra can pack so many features into its app without it getting too expensive or complicated for users.
How much does it cost?
The Abra app is free to download, but using certain services will involve a fee.
|Bank account transfers||US, Europe, the Philippines|
Supported banks only
- Europe and the US: 1-2 days
- Philippines: 2-4 days
|0 to 0.25%|
|Cash||The Philippines||Available immediately||1 to 2.5%|
|Credit or debit card (Visa, Mastercard, Amex)||Worldwide, though there may be credit card restrictions in the US||Available immediately||4 to 8%|
|BTC, BCH or LTC deposit||Worldwide||Available immediately||Cryptocurrency network fees may apply|
|Abra wire program||US||3-5 days||Varies|
Withdrawals may require you to provide additional information to Abra.
|Bank transfer||US and the Philippines||2-3 business days||Abra does not charge withdrawal fees, but banks may apply transfer fees|
|Cash||The Philippines, at selected locations||Available immediately||Up to 2%|
|BTC, BCH or LTC withdrawal||Everywhere||Typically almost immediately, but may vary||Standard network fees|
|Abra wire program||US||3-5 days||Varies|
There are no fees for exchanging currencies within the Abra app, but there is a small spread built in. In other words, you may be buying one currency at slightly above market rates and/or selling another at slightly below current rates.
This is typical for many currency exchange services.
Deposit and withdrawal limits
|US bank wires||$30,000 per wire, daily|
|Bank deposits and withdrawals||$2,000 daily|
|Credit card deposits (AMEX)||$200 daily and $1,000 monthly|
|Teller deposits and withdrawals||Tellers may have their own limits|
|Buy/sell non BTC/LTC cryptocurrencies||5 BTC per day exchange limit|
No limit for BTC and LTC
|BTC, LTC, BCH deposits and withdrawals||No limit|
|Peer-to-peer transfers||No limit|
Note that bank deposits and withdrawals operate on a rolling cycle. For example, you can only deposit or withdraw a maximum of $2,000 per 24 hour period — it doesn’t reset at midnight. Banks might also apply their own maximum transactions which might be lower than Abra’s.
Which cryptos can I store?
Abra supports the following cryptocurrencies. Note that with the exception of LTC and BCH, your balances will typically all be held as bitcoin and that Abra does not support withdrawals or deposits of most of these currencies, although you are still able to gain exposure to their price movements.
Wallets supported cryptocurrencies include:
How do I add cryptocurrency to my Abra wallet?
- To deposit BTC, BCH or LTC cryptocurrencies, open the app and go to the portfolio screen.
- Tap “+Add Money” and select the cryptocurrency you want to deposit.
- You should now see a QR code and a cryptocurrency address.
- To initiate the deposit you can either scan the QR code with the depositing wallet or use the address provided.
How do I make payments with Abra?
To send money to someone else with the Abra app, go to the main portfolio screen and select the main menu in the top left corner.
Now select “send to Abra user” and you will see a list of contacts. Those with the Abra app will have an icon next to their name. You cannot send money to people who don’t have the Abra app.
Select which type of currency you’d like to send by choosing which type of wallet the recipient will get the funds sent to. You can choose to convert BTC to USD, PHP, etc. at the time of sending by tapping the blue-highlighted “change” option.
Cryptocurrency payments and withdrawals
To send or withdraw cryptocurrency, you will need to have either the recipient’s wallet QR code or address.
To initiate the transfer, go to the app’s portfolio view and select “withdraw.” Now choose which cryptocurrency you would like to send. Make sure you have chosen the cryptocurrency that matches the receiving wallet address.
To send with a QR code, tap the QR code symbol. To send with a crypto address, enter it in the address field.
Enter the amount you wish to send, double check the amount and destination and tap “confirm” to make the payment.
Is Abra safe to use?
Abra has been around since 2014, is a registered company in California and its founder and CEO, Bill Barhydt, is an experienced and relatively well-known fintech engineer in Silicon Valley.
Abra’s received over $35 million in funding from venture capital firms and other investors, including American Express, has won multiple start-up awards, has clear customer service channels and has built up a strong customer base. At the time of writing, the app has been downloaded almost 40,000 times in the last month.
However, it’s also unconventional, complex and technically secretive by cryptocurrency standards. It’s not open source, and has not published technical details on how its complex system really works.
Pros and cons
- Allows in-app conversions of fiat and cryptocurrencies.
- An all-in-one exchange and wallet.
- Works as a money transfer app.
- Buy, sell and transfer from your phone — wherever you are.
- Guard against crypto falls, or look for rises, as needed.
- Rates for in-app purchases are higher than elsewhere.
- Bitcoin-based funds storage system may present additional risks.
- Rates may vary depending on currencies being used.
- Verification is required to deposit or withdraw funds.
Where can I get the Abra wallet?
Download Abra for iOS or Android.
Frequently asked questions
Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly
volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of
future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information.
You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory
requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may
have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.