Business 29 June 2018Dennis Wafula
Philippines remains fertile ground for crypto adoption
Despite warnings about the risks of acquisition and possession of cryptocurrencies, crypto-to-fiat trading in the Philippines remains high, according to the Philippine Star report.
In 2017, the cryptocurrency market in the Philippines experienced significant growth when the price of BTC rose to $20,000, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). However, while trading figures dropped in most markets, crypto trade in the Philippines continued in an upward trajectory despite BTC prices falling below the $6,000 mark in a decline that begun early this year.
In the first quarter of 2018, domestic crypto trading experienced a slight drop in the monthly averages. The Philippine central bank said from January to March, the conversion of crypto to Philippine peso (PHP) and other currencies reached $24.16 million, while conversion from fiat to crypto totaled $36.74 million during the first quarter period.
In comparison, BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier said crypto to fiat conversion reached a monthly average of $24.79 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Fiat to crypto transactions, on the other hand, amounted to $38.27 million in the last three months of 2017.
The Philippines is one of the most populous nations in the world, whose citizens are mostly “unbanked”—essentially people who do not have a bank accounts due to insufficient cash for keeping.
The country, however, has experienced a rise in virtual currency remittances as families of overseas workers started 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 BTC on their phones and withdraw from a regular ATM.
Last year, the BSP issued Circular 944 aimed at helping reduce the increased number of criminal activities like money laundering and terrorism funding. Virtual currency exchanges are required to follow the guidelines in their operations. So far, the central bank has approved three companies—Rebittance Inc, Coins.ph operator Betur Inc., and more recently, Bloom Solutions Inc.—to operate virtual currency exchanges in the Philippines.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV Philippines in April, Jimmy Nguyen, the CEO of nChain Group, stated that the cryptocurrency market in the country is growing in the right direction and stands to be the most viable market for virtual currency.
Unfortunately, current limits on the BTC network and Bitcoin Core’s focus on higher fees have resulted in people in developing countries like the Philippines to return to traditional remittance companies—a problem that will soon be solved as more crypto companies start supporting Bitcoin Cash.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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