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Bitcoin Remittance and Coca-Cola: A Match Made in Dubai?

Michael Hudson
5 August 2015

US$29.2 billion. 

That’s how much money migrants in Dubai sent back to their home countries last year, making them the 3rd largest sender of global money transfers, trumped only by Saudi Arabia and the States.  If we drill down further, the data shows us that US$12.6 billion, or 43%, went to India, US$4.2 billion to Pakistan and US$3.5 billion to the Philippines.

Those are some massive numbers. But you know what else is massive?

The amount of money they had to pay to do so.

The charges on remittance transfers via traditional payment systems can amount to between 10-30% of the value of the transaction, and when looking at the countries in question here, that’s a large chunk of much-needed income being swallowed up by processing fees.

The Pursuit of Prosperity

These are people that move away from their families in an effort to improve the lives of those they leave behind. They are poor, and they push their hard-earned Dirhams to the even poorer back home to house, feed and provide for their immediate relatives, and often their extended ones as well. Bettering the lives of their families is their sole objective. You only need watch a few of Coca-Cola’s guerrilla marketing campaign videos to feel the immense sense of family obligation.

In 2013, Coca-Cola launched their ‘hello happiness’ campaign in Dubai and strategically placed several bottle-cap activated phone booths in heavily migrant-occupied suburbs. The deal? A 3-minute international call in exchange for a Coca-Cola bottle-cap. And while the labourers welcomed the ‘hello happiness’ booths with open arms, the larger global community weren’t as easily convinced. Many lashed out at Coca-Cola, calling them out for a well-executed corporate strategy, promoting their unhealthy product to the people who could ill afford it and essentially ‘using’ them for profitable gain.

In 2014, Coca-Cola still focused their efforts on the same audience, but changed tack a bit. The #WishUponACoke campaign was rolled out at Dubai International Airport during December. This time, the campaign honed in on migrants making their way back home for the holidays, and those seen to be unpacking and repacking toys-and-treat laden luggage were handed Coke’s that included a special free 5kg excess baggage tag, courtesy of Coca-Cola. “You’re my guardian angel,” says one delighted Indian man.

Better Coca-Cola, you clearly know what you’re target audience holds dear.

A Challenge ... 

So, why not for this year’s campaign, install Coca-Cola sponsored bitcoin ATMs? If you thought the smiles at the phone booths and elation at the airport were great, can you imagine the look on Amar’s face when he realises he can send money back home instantly and practically for free? Priceless.

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