The Philippines seems like the perfect place for the development of decentralized digital currencies like bitcoin.
According to the statistics, around 90% of the population spends $10 or less per day. The figures sound even more dramatic taking into account that living on $2 per day is considered ‘extreme poverty’ in the world.
About 10 million Filipinos today live and work outside of the country. The collective cash remittances amount to $30 billion, what is equal to 10% of the GDP in Philippines.
On the average, Filipino send $200 home every month, with international remitters charging from 4% to 10% per transaction. Crypto-based services are now working to minimize that figure to 1%.
E-commerce has only began to develop in Philippines during the last five years due to the growing number of Internet-connected devices. The use of smartphones is 40%, while laptops and desktops account for 10%.
Most of the Filipinos prefer to make purchases by meeting the sellers at a physical location or making cash deposits at the bank and then wait for the delivery. This is the main reason why online sales are not widely used in the country. It is also explained by the fact that only 5% of Filipinos own credit cards.
Using MasterCard or Visa requires a lot of papework and checks. Furthermore, the incidents of fraud and chargebacks are too high. Alternative that bitcoin offers is evident – it is irreversible, trustless and requires almost zero time for installment. In addition, there is no need for permission or ID checks.
Bitcoin is money that could be used by 90 million low-income Filipinos in areas where traditional systems could not be used. People could send bitcoin via their mobile phones without asking for permission or paying any sums of money.
Bitcoin presents a number of financial enablers in comparison with fiat currency.
For example, imagine 50 people will put together $20 to help some vendor to start his business. Micro-lending has never been possible because of the transmission costs.
The Philippines is one of the few countries in the world where you can purchase four teaspoons of vinegar, eight sheets of paper and a cigarette for less than 10 cents.
It is often difficult for fiat currencies to support the granularity that entrepreneurship requires, while bitcoin could be divided to an almost infinite degree.
It is difficult to predict what influence digital currency will have in the Philippines in the future. Still, it is known that it enables people to make big changes in the socio-economic sphere.
At first, it is necessary to educate people about bitcoin and increase its distribution. Bitcoin, like any other new technology, should be used by as many people as possible.