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The rise of digital banking and cryptocurrency in the Philippines

Zhaskia Dela Druz

OVER the years, Filipinos have settled with the good old-fashioned, over-the-counter type of transactions when it comes to shopping, paying bills and monthly dues. 

Even though many Filipinos own smartphones and have access to the internet, they seem to be skeptical to use digital banking and would rather go to an automated teller machine as well as drop by the nearest bayad center to conduct their financial transactions.

According to Finastra, this reluctance of Filipinos is due to the lack of a compelling digital user experience, making the Philippines the lowest digital banking penetration in Asia.

But not anymore.

The tides are turning and the era of digital banking has finally arrived. With the help of these digital banking apps, more and more are ditching the traditional style of shopping and paying bills.

PAYPAL

With Paypal, users can now send payments to almost anywhere in the world within seconds and connect all the ways they pay, then shop with a tap. It has three mobile apps that are available for both Apple and Android users: 

PayPal App - Send and receive money.

Sending and requesting money, managing credit, pooling cash from peers, and creating savings,  goals have never been simpler with the new improved Paypal App. And by using their bank  account or PayPal balance, they can send money to their friends and family in the US for free. 

Users can now choose to set up a one-time investment by linking their Paypal account to Acorns. 

Lastly, users can now also support the causes their care about as they can easily donate to  charities with the Paypal app.

Paypal Business App - Manage your business on the go.

Created for businessmen and women, this app makes it easy for users to stay on top of their account activity, send invoices and view their customer information. With the help of this app,  they can easily create and send invoices for their customers to pay right away. They can even  track unpaid invoices and send reminders with just a few taps. Transferring funds, viewing  transaction details, issue refunds and checking account balance are also right at their fingertips.

Paypal Here App - Mobile point of sale.

This is a mobile payment solution that lets users accept multiple forms of payment simply and  securely. With that flexibility, PayPal Here can help their users increase their customer bases and make more sales. They can easily pay as they sell with no monthly fees, setup fees, cancelation  fees, or processing minimums. With the PayPal Here app and their choice of card readers, they  can get paid on-the-go or in their store -- for just 2.7% per US swipe transaction.

GCASH

Made by Globe Telecommunications for their subscribers, GCASH is one of the most popular digital banks in the country. It promises a faster and more secure way of sending and receiving money. With GCASH, users can also pay their bills and buy prepaid credits anytime, anywhere! On top of that, users don’t even need to memorize keywords and access numbers. All they need is their mobile pin and enough GCASH credits to start a transaction.   

PAY MAYA

In 2002, Smart Communications developed a short messaging system (SMS)-based fund transfer service named Smart Money under Smart Money Inc. In January 2016, the company was rebranded as PayMaya Philippines with a digital financial innovations’ unit called Voyager. 

It mainly serves as a virtual prepaid card for shopping online, booking flights, and more. Depending on the user’s mobile network, they either get a virtual Visa or Mastercard. With PayMaya, paying bills and sending money have also never been easier. Users can add money to their PayMaya virtual cards at 7-Eleven, Palawan Pawnshop, Smart Padala Centers, SM Store Business Services, and Robinsons Department Store Business Centers. 

COINS.PH

Coins.ph is the first digital wallet and first virtual currency provider in the Philippines to be licensed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. It is an app where Filipinos can send money and pay their bills or buy 

digital currency such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum. With just a few taps, users can also buy 

load from Globe, Smart, Sun, TNT, and TM. Coins.ph is also the perfect app for gamers where they can enhance their gaming experience and buy gaming credits. 

BDO

The BDO mobile banking app promises their users to enjoy a hassle-free banking experience. With it,  they can monitor their deposit accounts, credit card, and loans. They can also pay their utility (electric,  water, cable, postpaid phone, etc.) bills and other frequently paid services. Transferring funds and  reloading their prepaid mobile has also been made more convenient. The app also features a branch locator and users can view their 90-day transaction history.

BPI

The BPI mobile app encourages their users to save money and save time by experiencing a faster and more convenient banking transaction anytime, anywhere! It is the first bank to introduce the capability to transfer funds to an un-enrolled BPI account in the country. Using the app, users can guarantee that their transactions are safe and secure with the 2-factor authentication system which protects their accounts from unauthorized access.

SECURITY BANK

With the Security Bank mobile app, users never have to worry about due dates as they can schedule their payments ahead of time. Users can also view balances and transaction history of their enrolled deposit, eSecureSavings, and credit card accounts. Aside from that, they can easily transfer funds to other SBC bank accounts without the need to enroll.  The app also has a branch and ATM locator feature to help their users locate the nearest Security Bank in the area. 

Cryptocurrency

Another revolutionary act that humanity has made is the new currency that does not have any physical form but has a value that outshines most currencies. Cryptocurrency started off when Satoshi Nakamoto created a digital currency called, Bitcoin. 

This currency can be used like a normal money, people can use it to buy clothes, shoes, even exchange stocks or basically almost anything except every transaction is done digitally. It was considered a stroke of genius because it is completely decentralized and is protected by cryptography, meaning it is coded. It is decentralized in a way that it uses the peer-to-peer network, a person or a peer can check the international ledger that keeps a list of all the transactions ever made and everyone from all countries keeps it updated of any new transaction. So, imagine this ledger is a block and there’s a continuous number of blocks being added to it and you have a chain of blocks. This is called the Blockchain, or the ledgers that everyone keeps. This way, no discrepancy happens and it does not have a centralized body to check what happens because everyone does. 

The whole cryptocurrency system works with wallets and keys. The wallet is where they digitally store their bitcoins. The key is not an actual key, but keys that are a series of codes. Each person has two keys, a private key, and a public key. When a transaction is made, a person signs it with his private key and sends it with his public key. The private key works like an announcement that it is really them that sent that message and the public key is the way other people can check it. 

There are people who take blockchain to another level, called ‘miners’. Bitcoin has a reward system that whoever puts a new block to the chain first will get a certain amount of Bitcoins. It’s why they are called miners, because it’s like they are digging at the earth with the hopes of being the first one to add a block to the chain. 

The way they swing this figurative pickaxe is by solving math problems. Cryptography is the art of solving and creating codes after all. They solve cryptic math problems in order to add a block to the chain and thus rewarded by Bitcoins that is created out of thin air. Currently, the reward is 12.5 Bitcoin which will go down every four years. 

Today, One Bitcoin is worth $2,000 dollars and the value would only continue to increase because of the demand. 

Bitcoin is the pioneer of cryptocurrency but as times progressed, many other cryptocurrencies appeared with better or enhanced systems. They are called Altcoins or ‘alternative to Bitcoin’. One such currency is the LiteCoin (LTC), which like Bitcoin, uses a decentralized system but makes every transaction faster. Another is DASH, which enhances the feature of anonymity and the transactions are almost untraceable. Monero (XMR) not only promises anonymity but also a fast exchange of transactions. There are other cryptocurrencies or altcoins that are in circulation today and many more are still developing a better altcoin. 

In the Philippines, the cryptocurrency haze has started to settle with more people joining in trading with their bitcoins. Recently, the Philippines has allowed 10 cryptocurrency operators in the Philippines. 

Organizations like the Blockchain Association of the Philippines hope to spread information about this tricky subject. 

While the Philippines has yet to develop their own cryptocurrency, they have made steps with it. Which is where the Philippine-based wallet and coin exchanges come in. A lot of cryptocurrency wallet sites  sprouted to accommodate the growing interest of cryptocurrency. 

Coin.ph is a Southeast Asian digital wallet and digital currency exchange based in the Philippines and Thailand. It could be used as a digital wallet and a cryptocurrency exchange. Trading and exchanging bitcoins/altcoins are much easier as they not only do they have a website, they also have a mobile which adds to the convenience. 

Bitbit.cash is another Philippine-based digital wallet that allows people to be at ease. It has a mobile app that allows the users to take it everywhere they go. 

The Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX) allows people to trade and exchange without the need to go to foreign exchanges. It has the order-matching technology used in most trading sites to match buyers and sellers. 

With technologies like these, who knows what technological breakthrough will happen next?

Topics: digital banking , cryptocurrency , Philippines
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