This is an opinion editorial by Jiro Reyes, CEO of Philippines-based education company Bitskwela, aimed at accelerating regional Bitcoin adoption in the country.
Corruption, poverty and financial exclusion. These are just some of the many problems that Bitcoin was created to solve. But in many countries, to this day, the majority of their citizens are fighting for their lives, or rather, they are fighting these issues until the end of their lives.
One such nation to watch out for would be the Philippines, a developing country in Southeast Asia.
The need for Bitcoin in the Philippines
It is often said that Bitcoin offers a solution to various financial issues, and many are of concern to the Philippines. More than a fifth of the population (23.7%) has criminal statistics living below the poverty line. In addition, the country has 10 million unbanked citizens and it is also ranked 117th out of the 180 most corrupt countries, which creates problems when relying on centralized authorities for decision-making.
It is not surprising that it has not been able to escape the interconnected and growing economic crises around the world today. As in the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has led the Philippines to impose severe lockdowns that last longer than most other countries. As a result, the country’s GDP decreased by 9.6% and the economy has not yet recovered. Inflation in the country has also become an issue with quantitative easing and supply chain issues following the pandemic. Filipinos’ savings are failing to keep pace with commodity prices, exacerbated by broad fiat currencies losing value against the dollar as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. When most Filipino citizens have to struggle with a minimum wage of 570 pesos or $9.65 per day, it is important to find a better means to achieve financial security. Enter Bitcoin.
How Bitcoin is solving problems in the Philippines
With Bitcoin being the most open source, secure, immutable and decentralized form of money, most of the economic problems facing Filipinos can be solved by its adoption. First, it will help the 10 million unbanked Filipinos become their own banks. There would be no need for tedious applications or collecting various ID cards and documents. Anyone can save and send money just by phone and internet. The final input is given in Bitcoin.
Bitcoin transactions help reduce both widespread corruption and general criminal activity in the Philippines. Since all transactions are publicly visible on the blockchain, in some ways it becomes easier to track suspicious activity and track down bad actors in the system. Bitcoin’s decentralization ensures that no government or bank controls it, and no third party can censor or block transactions.
Even inflation and the weakening purchasing power of the Philippine peso can be corrected with Bitcoin. Since it has a fixed supply of 21 million, it is certain that no more bitcoins will exist beyond that amount, thus deflating it. Bitcoin will not lose value over time simply because the government prints more or accidentally finds a gold mine. It is the perfect store of value and inflation hedge to protect one’s purchasing power over time.
Solving problems like these shows how Bitcoin can help ordinary people not only in the Philippines, but all over the world.
Need for Better Bitcoin Education
Although Bitcoin can solve many problems in the Philippines, its adoption still needs to be coupled with proper education. This is to guarantee that the people who use it can use Bitcoin to its full potential and avoid financial loss.
For example, there have been several scams in the past in the Philippines that relied on promises of bitcoins to lure victims. Many people have likely fallen for these scams and may now harbor a deep distrust of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency as a whole.
In my experience, there is also a lack of “research” mentality among Filipinos. They often buy without understanding what their friends and family are saying. It can also be due to the expectation of quick profits and no HODLing all the time. If they don’t really know what they are investing in, they can sell something like bitcoin at a huge loss when the price turns against them. On the other end of the spectrum, I’m afraid most Filipinos won’t even invest to begin with, be it bitcoin or anything else, due to the lack of an “investment mentality” in the country. Many will miss out on working toward financial security and freedom because the concepts of depreciation and inflation are foreign to them.
Finally, there is the simple language barrier that most Bitcoin education is offered in English, not the native language of Filipinos. It also comes with a lot of technical jargon in learning blockchain technology. Although some educational platforms in the country are already dealing with it, it is still a pressing issue in the spotlight.
This concept, which needs sufficient education, is not limited to the Philippines, but also to all other countries where bitcoin will eventually penetrate. Each country will have unique challenges with learning about Bitcoin, so it becomes important to identify each country-specific challenge and then address them accordingly.
Interest in Bitcoin and the opportunities it presents
Nevertheless, there are numerous opportunities for the development and adoption of Bitcoin. While countries like the Philippines inevitably face some barriers to Bitcoin education, most citizens are receptive and eager to learn once they are educated. The Philippines in particular has a lot to offer.
When it comes to opportunities, Filipinos are avid internet users, with the country being dubbed the “social media capital” of the world. Inevitably, this has led to the country’s relatively high adoption of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. A GWI global survey found the Philippines to be the second country in cryptocurrency ownership, and another survey found bitcoin to be the most popular cryptocurrency in the country, with 37.8% of the country’s 12 million cryptocurrency holders holding bitcoin in their wallets. The governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the country’s central bank, has said there are no plans to ban the use of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin education is also a growing trend there.
Many other countries, especially developing countries, will make similar pledges. Realizing this promise simply requires a sufficient understanding of economic problems and how to use mass education. The example of the Philippines shows that despite the numerous shortcomings in the government or economy, Bitcoin can still alleviate some problems for ordinary citizens. Bitcoin shows that even though there are obstacles in the education process, it will bring great opportunities for people to pass.
This is a guest post by Jiro Reyes. The views expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.