(Source: Inside Retail Philippines | 14 September 2016)
Philippine startup Coins.ph is flourishing by offering financial services to the 69 per cent of locals who do not have bank accounts.
The company was the brainchild of Ron Hose, a former venture capitalist in Paolo Alto California who one day realised Asia was a better location for innovation than Silicon Valley.
Hose, a computer scientist, founded Coins.ph in Manila in 2014 as a bitcoin exchange, later expanding into digital payment and international remittance using technology known as blockchains.
In the Philippines, just 31 per cent of people have bank accounts and a mere 3 per cent have credit cards. Yet in an increasingly wired world, these people need access to cash electronically. So Hose partnered with 7-Eleven and BDO Unibank and chains of licensed local payment shops to provide facilities to consumers to receive remittances from overseas foreign workers. By using bitcoins as the transfer “currency” Coins.ph avoids excessive international bank conversion fees which burden rival remittance services.
A feature in the Nikkei magazine online cites a payment shop run by Bernardino Dominguez near slums on the northern outskirts of Manila as an example of a Coins.ph partner. From a mere 3 sqm retail space, he handles 1.5 million pesos in transactions every month, earning between 30,000 and 40,000 in commissions for himself. He handles payment of utility bills, government fees and money transfers using the likes of Coins.ph.