Colin Goltra, head of cryptocurrency programs at Coins.ph, sits down with CoinGeek’s Stephanie Tower for a Coinversation on Philippines’ nascent cryptocurrency market, and how the crypto wallet is providing digital financial services to the “unbanked” population.
The Philippines, consisting of more than 7,000 islands, is home to at least 100 million people. As of January 2018, the country that has been referred to as the Pearl of the Orient Seas is also the eighth most populated country in Asia, and the 12th most populated country in the world. Outside of the Philippines, an estimated 10 million Filipinos are working and living overseas.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the country has been seeing an increase in virtual currency remittances as families of overseas workers have been opting out of traditional remittance companies like Western Union in favor of cheaper remittance companies like Coins.ph, which makes it easier for customers to receive crypto on their phones and withdraw from a regular ATM.
In just four years after it launched its operations, Coins.ph saw its customer base rise to 5 million. Established in 2014, Coins.ph is a blockchain services platform operating under a Certificate of Registration from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), allowing it to “formally operate as a virtual currency exchange.”The company offers an array of financial services, including topping prepaid load and card top-ups, bill payments, wallet transfers, online shopping, and most importantly, remittances.
“We are a cryptocurrency wallet that allows you to, pretty much anyone in the Philippines whether or not they have a bank account, to add cash to a digital wallet that allows them to convert into cryptocurrencies and make your cryptocurrency usable,” Colin Goltra, of Coins.ph, told CoinGeek. “It’s helpful because right now, 75% or more Filipinos don’t have access to traditional financial services.”
Coins.ph’s goal, according to Goltra, provide digital financial services to the masses, especially the so-called “unbanked,” or those who don’t have bank accounts due to insufficient cash for keeping.
“For us, it’s really been a function of making a digital product that can connect people, that maybe have only used cash before, to a lot of different payment methods. These are people that maybe sometimes have accessing financial services for the first time, even if in digital form,” he said.
Recently, Coins.ph added support for Bitcoin Cash, the only true Bitcoin and the world’s only functional cryptocurrency, in a bid to support lower cost blockchain based payments. Goltra said, “We’re really looking at sort of functionality and so, I mean, I think we’re interested in adding it to the extent that there’s interest in the Philippines and to the extent that it can be useful for the customers.”