The Pioneers: Cryptocurrency in the Philippines

It is no secret that the Philippines lags behind the rest of Asia when it comes to technological advancement.

With its infamous internet speed and its unbanked citizens bringing about inefficient digital payment systems, the country has often failed to catch the attention of investors eyeing South East Asia.

Despite its negative connotation, however, this same untapped potential became the country’s selling point once it came to blockchain.

The ‘unbanked’ and OFWs

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), only approximately 30% of Filipino adults had a bank account in 2014. Furthermore, an even smaller 3% of Filipino adults used credit cards for transactions at the time.

This brought about payment systems for online purchases such as bank deposits or payment through ‘Pera Padala’. But in the midst of Philippine traffic and better yet, an online shop’s promise of ease of transaction, does a buyer really need to be inconvenienced offline?

Adding to that, in 2014, the country also received the third largest amount of remittances from citizens working overseas. However, remittance centers take a percentage from these transactions, consistently lessening what Filipino families could have received.

Rather than an obstacle, this outdated payment and remittance system was seen as an advantage to cryptocurrency investors.

The pioneers in crypto

In 2014, the launch of two of the country’s largest digital payment networks, Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI Ventures Inc.) and Coins.ph, began the country’s growth in terms of blockchain technology.

Ron Hose, the CEO of Coins.ph, saw bitcoin as a promising solution to the Philippines lack of accessible and convenient payment and remittance systems.

“[With] other [services, you] have to travel to a bank for 45 minutes on bus, wait in line and then return back on the bus. Before you know it, it takes three hours to pay for something online,” Hose mentioned in a previous interview with CoinDesk.

In another interview with TechinAsia, Hose also stated that “The Philippines is very ready for Bitcoin. . . . This solves a real problem.”

Both Coins.ph and SCI Ventures Inc. have also previously stressed their intent to be able to provide more accessible services to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) looking to remit.

John Bailon, CEO and Co-Founder of SCI, reiterated when they launched that one of their goals is to improve the remittance system for OFWs needing to send money to their families at home.

“We are a country of separated families. That’s what motivates us at SCI. We see how Bitcoin can improve the lives of these separated families,” Bailon said in an interview with Cointelegraph.

Since then, SCI and Coins.ph have been consistently improving their network. Recently, Coins.ph also celebrated 5 million users and two additional services: Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

Current crypto in the Philippines

The country’s crypto growth has been growing through the years, with the support of local banks and the government’s use of blockchain technology.

It is no secret that the Philippines lags behind the rest of Asia when it comes to technological advancement. Despite that, the country has been slowly catching speed and opening our doors to cryptocurrency.

Journalist exposing herself to tech. I write because I can.