By Guest Author- Danie, Philippines
The Philippines in South East Asia is one of the bastions of the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. It is a country of more than 100 million and with a globalized workforce of 10 million working abroad. For many Filipinos, sending money home has become a billion dollar matter. In June 2017 alone, Filipinos sent $2.467 billion dollars to their families. This has created a GDP growth rate that rivals its big neighbor China. In the third quarter of 2017, the Philippines’ GDP has exceeded expectations at 6.9%. The money sent home is spent on growth sectors such as education, real estate, construction and consumer spending. This has created a trickle-down effect that has bolstered the local economy.
The economic windfall has also grabbed the attention of cryptocurrency fintech startups. One of these is Bitcoin startup Coins.ph.
Started by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Ron Hose and Runar Petursson in 2014, Coins.ph has grown phenomenally to 1,000,000 users. Much of this can be attributed to keen timing and a close familiarity with its target demographics. They have the pulse of the young and tech savvy Filipino populace. Most of the younger Filipinos are very quick to adapt to new technologies. Moreover, the Coins.ph platform allows for sending money back home with very little fees. Remittance centers and traditional banking methods have long dominated this scene. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) usually pay large fees.
Coins.ph uses the Bitcoin protocol to allow lower fees. It also allows for bill payments, cell phone loading and game credit top-ups. It’s an all in one solution that Filipinos have come to appreciate. Parents who are working abroad can make sure that their families back home are well provided for. They can make sure that the bills back home are paid in time. Coins.ph has also forged strategic partnerships with banks, remittance centers, and popular retail chain 7-11. This is done to make its services widely available. The startup has now branched to neighboring country Thailand with the Coins.co.th website.
The Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has treated bitcoin with cautious optimism. It recognizes the value of letting new players in the fintech scene to enter the market. Other countries have been slow to recognize the potential for bitcoin and blockchain technology. The BSP has already released its guidelines for virtual currencies. 2017 has been marked by the tremendous growth of BSP applications. 12 new bitcoin related companies registered in the financial bureau. The overall treatment of the Philippine central bank has been generally positive. However, it is still keeping a wary eye on cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin has been known to be the favorite medium for cyber criminals. The BSP has also warned the public to be wary of Bitcoin’s speculative nature.