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Wednesday August 22, 2018
CEBU

‘Ripe’ for blockchain, cryptocurrency

Seeing opportunity.Venture capitalist Brock Pierce speaks at the Beach Blockchain Conference Thursday. Pierce noted that with over 80 percent of the population unbanked, there’s a big market that can be introduced to the new technology. (Contributed Foto)

A VENTURE capitalist best known for pioneering the market for digital currency sees the Philippines succeeding in embracing the digital economy.

Speaking at the first Beach Blockchain Conference held in Lapu-Lapu City, Brock Pierce, co-founder and managing partner at Blockchain Capital, told participants that the Philippines is an “interesting” location to grow the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency because of its over 80 percent unbanked population.

He said blockchain will democratize the global financial system in a way that it could help people get access to financial services, making the less fortunate a big beneficiary of this digital economy.

“The Philippines has over 80 percent unbanked population and this is the reason why I’m excited to be here and to come back over and over again. The Philippines is one of the interesting locations because of its characteristics—English speaking nation and the fact that there is room to make a difference, to balance the access of financial services,” said Pierce, who is also chairman at Bitcoin Foundation.

The 2017 data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas revealed that 86 percent of Filipino households are unbanked or do not have a deposit account because they do not have enough cash to spare for keeping.

According to the central bank, majority who are unbanked are self-employed, or working for a private household, other household’s farm, or in other informal occupations.

With the growing popularity of blockchain and cryptocurrency, Pierce said the challenge is how to bring this unbanked population on the grid for them to enjoy and get the access to basic financial services.

“We need to figure out how to get them onboard...Financial services are as important as clean drinking water,” said Pierce, referring to startup entrepreneurs aspiring to become big one day.

Appsolutely chief executive officer Patrick Palacios said the Philippines is catching up with other developed nations in taking advantage of the new technology, although he admitted there is still much to be done in terms of pushing discourse on blockchain and digital currencies to enlighten more Filipinos.

A report in FT.com, the Financial Times newspaper’s online site, said the Philippines, compared to its Southeast Asian counterparts, has a relatively higher rate of acceptance of digital currency Bitcoin and is exhibiting receptiveness to this blockchain technology.

Adoption rate was highest in Indonesia at 3.3 percent followed by the Philippines at 2.9 percent.

The study revealed overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), millennials, and expats are now turning to Bitcoin, citing it as a good investment.

“This is already a good start and with more education, we would be able to plug in more people into this new way of doing business,” said Palacios.


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