Andrew Munro is the cryptocurrency editor at Finder. He was initially writing about insurance, when he accidentally fell in love with digital currency and distributed ledger technology (aka “the blockchain”). Andrew has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales, and has written guides about everything from industrial pigments to cosmetic surgery.
Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific
provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade.
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 US$5,000 in her account.
If bitcoin’s price falls by 50%, Sarah will still have one bitcoin, but it will now be worth US$2,500.
If bitcoin’s price rises by 50%, Sarah will still have one bitcoin but it will now be worth US$7,500.
Jim is also holding one bitcoin worth US$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 US$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 US$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, it means you can exchange money without going through money changers, and 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.
Withdrawals may require you to provide additional information to Abra.
Where it’s available
How long it takes
US and the Philippines
2-3 business days
Abra does not charge withdrawal fees, but banks may apply transfer fees
The Philippines, at selected locations
Up to 2%
BTC, BCH or LTC withdrawal
Typically almost immediately, but may vary
Standard network fees
Abra wire program
This option may suit US-based users who use banks that do not allow direct bank transfers with Abra, and are happy with high minimums and comparatively high fees. Eligible users (US-based customers with a US bank account only) can become an Abra wire member through the app by following these steps:
Open the Abra app and go to your portfolio view.
Select “add money”. This button should be on the bottom of the screen.
Select “bank wire transfer”. You do not actually have to make a wire transfer – this is just for signing up.
Check the list of requirements. You will need to have this information on hand to proceed with sign-up.
Enter your first name, last name, email address, date of birth, address, zip code and social security number.
Take a photo of your government-issued ID, and a selfie of yourself holding your government-issued ID.
Select the bank account you’d like to use.
Enter your bank account details.
To withdraw using Abra wire, you will first need to have sent funds to Abra through wire. You can then request a wire withdrawal the same way.
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
US$30,000 per wire, daily
Bank deposits and withdrawals
Credit card deposits (AMEX)
US$200 daily and US$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
Note that bank deposits and withdrawals operate on a rolling cycle. For example, you can only deposit or withdraw a maximum of US$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.
Supported fiat currencies:
AUD, USD, GBP, EUR, JPY, SGD, HKD & 40+ more
Approximately 83 cryptocurrencies
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.
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-hand 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.
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
No – unless you’ve chosen to denominate all your money in the Abra app as bitcoin.
Abra accounts for the possibility of extreme bitcoin price falls by hedging its funds. For example, if a lot of Abra users are holding their bitcoin as euros, Abra might sell some of its own bitcoin to hold more euros. This helps ensure it can honour the value of funds held in user wallets.
You hold all the bitcoin in your Abra wallet, no matter how it’s denominated. “Abra has no access (ever) to the private keys that reference your funds. The Abra model is 100% peer-to-peer, with no middleman ever holding, managing or touching your funds at any point in any transaction,” it says.
According to the descriptions provided by Abra, your background bitcoin balance is automatically adjusted by smart contracts as appropriate without Abra ever touching it, or being able to touch it.
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.
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