Where the future of cryptographic payments is built


Leah Callon-Butler is the co-founder of Intimate.io, a token project that aims to bring payments, privacy and reputation to the adult industry.

The following is an exclusive contribution for the 2018 year of CoinDesk under consideration.

2018 years in review

"The stars are aligned," he said, the room hanging on every word.

"In the same way that the industrial revolution created the economic prosperity that made the United States what it is today, in the same way that Africa has bypassed wired telecommunications and switched directly to wireless, the Philippines has the potential to be the biggest beneficiary of this technology now Manila could be next New York The next London The next Hong Kong The next Tokyo

The public in Manila Private House was silent, completely fascinated by Brock Pierce's speech while telling the story of a nation prepared for a technological revolution. The Philippines is a collection of over 7,000 islands, where only 31% of its 100 million people are cashed, and only 4% of transactions take place online, but almost 60% of people own a smartphone.

Add to this the problem of identity, with thousands of undocumented people and without property rights due to limited access to government services, and you can start to see how the Philippines draws the attention of some of the the most forward-looking blockchain entrepreneurs and investors in the world.

The government and the central bank also boarded, recognizing the potential of this technology to introduce unprecedented efficiencies and interconnections to the local economy, supporting the movement with special economic zones to promote development and attract investment, particularly in fintech, of which 16% of the current industry is in blockchain or crypto.

"It was a great move by the government to learn and do more with blockchain technology," says John & Jem & # 39; Milburn, an EOS enthusiast based in Seoul while building business in the special economic zone of Cagayan (CEZA), continues:

"Banks and businesses are also interested in real and sincere thrusts to learn and provide services.The move to encourage and allow exchanges in CEZA is enormous and will, I believe, lead to a great growth in the involvement of the Philippines in blockchain projects. international ".

One of the Philippines's incumbent financial institutions, UnionBank, is paving the way for blockchain testing, applying technology to everything from the internal distribution of operational manuals to the digitization of the fragmented rural banking system, leading to costly processes that previously required some days of real time. .

For rural banks, of which only 400 remain in the Philippines today, compared to 1,400 just 30 years ago, UnionBank plans to collaborate with at least 100 of them to help build blockchain-based connections to major national and international banking networks.

Encouraged by early successes and with 30 ConsenSys certified blockchain developers already in-house, UnionBank says they will add another 20,000 programmers to the team in the coming years.

Active start

But it's not just the incumbents who work hard in the Philippines.

With the financial inclusion announced as the next big wave of cryptocurrency adoption, the startup Coins.ph is capitalizing on the opportunity to offer secure, reliable and affordable payment services to unassigned and unidentified.

Founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Ron Hose and Runar Petursson, Coins.ph is a blockchain-enabled digital wallet that can be used to pay bills, buy credit for your mobile phone and process peer-to-peer transactions – all with KYC minimum and without the need for a bank account.

With super-easy onboarding and a multitude of methods to recharge your account, from sending bitcoin or ethereum to the Philippine Pesos store in a 7-Eleven store, this gives some insights on how Coins.ph has managed to create a user base of more than 5% of the local population when the company is just over four years old.

Coins.ph also uses the blockchain to reduce the typical cost of cross-border remittances, a key service for foreign Filipino workers (known as OFW) and their families.

The money sent home by OFW is the second largest export of the Philippines, with 10% of GDP. In February this year, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that remittances grew 5.3% in 2017 to reach a total of $ 33 billion.

This was the historic high for the Philippines, destroying the government's goals and positioning the Philippines as the third highest recipient of global remittances, only surpassed by the huge diaspora of India and China.

But on average, migrant workers lose more than 10 percent in international transaction fees when they send money home. This is significantly higher than the average cost reported by the World Bank at 7.1 percent and has a devastating effect on families who rely on those funds, not to mention the people who work so hard to earn it in the first place. Global Overseas Worker, or GOW, is an encrypted exchange licensed from the Central Bank of the Philippines and the SEC of the Philippines that is offering up to 98% savings on the customary Filipinos replacement commissions.

"Every little help, and this saving is potentially the difference that makes someone smile a smile this Christmas," says William Sung, COO of GOW. "However, it's more than that: it's about being included in the new digital economy and blockchain services are gateways into that inclusion."

Like Coins.ph and GOW, other local initiatives such as Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI) and Bloom Solutions are also tackling the problem of remittances.

Brian Calma Sales, a Filipino who works in Dubai as the coordinator of an office in a construction company, and has a side fuss that offers services for hair and makeup, says that extra money would do a lot.

"Most OFW work abroad for their family – part of the Filipino culture helps our family, it's our responsibility," he says. "If we do not have to pay the tax, it could be used to pay some bills or for a holiday, and Filipinos mostly work two jobs, so instead of working extra hours to get the money they need to send home, maybe we could have taken the day off. "

Aspiring entrepreneurs

There is reason to think that this is only the beginning of an important movement.

The nineteen-year-old Kyle Acquino found inspiration in those strong values ​​of the Filipino family to devise the idea that won the Accenture Choice Award at DISH 2018, the first hackathon blockchain of the Filipino communities.

"I took advantage of this mentality and I came up with the idea of ​​providing a platform where communities can grow together as a family," says Acquino, who studies Computer Science at the University of Technology of the Philippines. The idea of ​​his team, Psycellium, is to build a decentralized network of cooperatives that would bring the Philippines a step towards globalization.

A derivative of a DAO, Psycellium would allow cooperatives to merge, invest and join other cooperatives without the typical cross-border concerns or restrictions.

DISH 2018 (which stands for Decentralized Innovations Startups Hackathon) was a blockchain-agnostic event held in Makati in November, bringing together the Ethereum, EOS and NEM communities and encouraging participants to make objective decisions about which platform would best fit their project .

"Blockchains are not all encompassing in terms of functionality," said Chris Verceles, CTO of Decentralized Startup for Disaster Response LifeMesh, a developer at ConsenSys Philippines and one of the leading hackathon organizers. "Everyone is the best in a particular case of use and I think we should be able to combine the tools based on what we need, and" he said, "a community only grows if it is inclusive."

Inclusion themes appear to be the best for Filipinos, with many women-oriented technology communities hosting a local chapter in the capital of Manila, including Women Who Code, Women in Blockchain and Coding Girls. After the launch in November 2017, the latter has gone from five members to more than 100 in just six months. Their leader, Alenia Dawn Magpantay, a 20-year-old electrical engineering student, says that the young population of the Philippines (the average age is 24) makes it "a haven for technology professionals who are creative and enterprising".

Michie Ang, a director of Women Who Code Manila, said she did not look forward to responding to her request to further encourage blockchain language training in 2019. Her organization represents a network of over 1700 female devs through national capital.

Brilliant young minds are abundant in the Philippines. In fact, this is what pushed intimate.io to transfer half of its executive team here in August, to work more intensively with our existing Pinoy team of four.

Since then, we have added two more developers with the help of our business process outsourcing partner (BPO), Cloudstaff. Founded in 2005 by the Australian Internet pioneer, Lloyd Ernst, Cloudstaff is an outsourcing company in the Philippines that provides qualified staff to a wide range of vertical industries.

Today, the company employs over 2,000 employees and contractors in four regions, with plans to double the size over the next year.

Growth figures reveal that companies are outsourcing talents to companies like Cloudstaff more and more, with 1.3 million people now employed by BPOs in the Philippines. Ernst says growth is driven by small and medium-sized businesses that have moved to the cloud to use a global workforce. With a background in China, Vietnam and Thailand, Ernst states that the high level of proficiency in English in the Philippines makes a big difference. Verceles agrees, adding that the common exposure of Filipinos to online and western cultures makes local developers very trainable.

"There's a huge amount of untapped talent here, as much attention is paid to the hiring of surrounding areas like Singapore or Hong Kong," he says. "You can see it in the current scramble for blockchain talent, in which companies are increasingly looking at the resources of more plentiful developers in the Philippines."

Community guide

To say that it is "refreshing" to be immersed in a community that is truly focused on designing and building practical solutions to some of the biggest problems in the world … it is a euphemism.

Milburn agrees, meditating on the fact that "the Filipino community seems focused on the utility of the blockchain, more than the typical speculation and gambling we see in so many markets."

Another example is ODX, or Open Data Exchange, a data market founded by the serial entrepreneur Nix Nolledo, which aims to provide consumers with free internet services sponsored through the blockchain. Collaborated with industry giants such as Booking.com, ODX will be critical to emerging markets where connection rights are quickly becoming crucial as transaction rights and consumers are still offline up to 80% of the time because mobile data they are so expensive.

This is particularly vital for emerging markets where consumers are estimated to be offline 80% of the time because data is so prohibitive. Projects like Nolledo – and all the others mentioned in this article – do not need to propagate the slogan "blockchain social good" because economic empowerment is simply an intrinsic product of their operations.

In the short time we were stationed here in the Philippines, the blockchain community welcomed us with open arms. We found synergies, supported their respective initiatives and started fabulous friendships.

In the intimate.io office, our sense of team cohesion has never been stronger and productivity is skyrocketing! As a result, my co-founders and I have decided to stay for at least 12 months and, in January 2019, we will move to our new home in Angeles City.

After a 2018 roller coaster, crossing almost all the continents of the planet, we are all incredibly grateful to be ourselves to try a place that seems more stable than anything else in encryption at this time.

It's true that something phenomenal is happening here – and – I have a feeling that the only hot air we're going to have to do with the Philippines … is moisture.

Do you have a strong vision of 2018? News via e-mail [at] coindesk.com to submit an opinion to our year under review.

Image of the Philippines via Shutterstock

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