LOOK: 400 Small Businesses in the Philippines Now Accept Bitcoin Payments

Several countries already accept Bitcoin as a legal mode of payment. To make this available in the Philippines, Pouch.ph enables 400 small businesses to do the same. 

In the Philippines, cryptocurrencies are considered legal, but they are not recognized as legal tender since they’re not regulated by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Despite that, the country has seen a great crypto adoption rate, which makes it a promising crypto hub in Asia. 

Cryptocurrencies are virtual assets that were designed to work as a medium of exchange and these assets use cryptography for security purposes as well. Most cryptocurrencies are built with blockchain technology—which works like a shared database among computer nodes. In fact, this special technology is also the secret as to why crypto assets remain decentralized or uncontrolled by central financial sectors. 

It is estimated that nearly around 7 million Filipinos have invested in cryptocurrencies, with about 37% of these owning Bitcoin (BTC)—the most popular cryptocurrency to date.

And so, given the good reception of cryptocurrency in the Philippines, local Bitcoin payment firm Pouch.ph announced that they will enable 400 businesses to start accepting Bitcoin payments. This will focus on the country’s vast pool of merchants which will range from mom-and-pop stores to boutique hotels.

How Customers Can Pay in Bitcoin

For the transaction to happen, fintech company Pouch.ph will be using Lightning Network to make the payments quicker, cheaper, and more user-friendly. Lightning Network is defined as “a decentralized network using smart contract functionality in the blockchain to enable instant payments across a network of participants.

“Lightning Network is dependent upon the underlying technology of the blockchain,” the site reads. “By using real Bitcoin or blockchain transactions and using its native smart-contract scripting language, it is possible to create a secure network of participants which are able to transact at high volume and high speed.”

So how does it work? When customers pay by scanning QR codes with their Bitcoin wallets, Pouch.ph will convert these Bitcoins to legal tender—Philippine pesos—and have it directly sent to the merchant. Through this feature, the transaction made will be much easier and more efficient for all involved parties. 

Pouch.ph on How It Came up With the Idea

“One of the most significant challenges for the growth of small businesses is the availability of payment methods, with credit cards charging fees up to 3%,” says Pouch.ph CEO Ethan Rose in an interview. “With the growing number of internet and smartphone users in the Philippines, Bitcoin as a payment method will allow those who do not have credit cards or even local fiat currency to make online or in-store purchases.”

“We’re helping businesses open up a vast market that was previously untapped,” he adds.

So far, about 250 merchants in Boracay have already enrolled with Pouch.ph so they can integrate Bitcoin into their daily operations. Aside from pushing for the rise of “Boracay Bitcoin Island,” Pouch.ph has also onboarded several merchants from nearby provinces like Cebu, Dumaguete, Iloilo, and Bacolod. 

In fact, several businesses in Metro Manila have also started to avail of their services for added convenience. 

What Bitcoin Payment Integration Means for Local Businesses

In 2022, about 82% of Filipinos attempted to go for cashless payments. As the numbers continue to rise, Filipinos get a better bird’s eye view of its perks and the convenience it brings. And since Bitcoin payments are also cashless, Bitcoin payment integration can be seen as a promising way for Filipinos to use their investments in a practical way.

Businesses can also enjoy several benefits by starting to accept Bitcoin payments. Aside from ease and convenience, Bitcoin also adds more appeal to foreign tourists who have not exchanged their money for Philippine pesos yet, as Bitcoin isn’t tied to a specific currency. Therefore, its users will have no issues using it in countries where crypto is considered legal. 

Having several merchants that accept Bitcoin will also make people realize that the Philippines is taking a closer step toward globalization as it slowly adapts to the cashless methods other countries are using. Therefore, integrating Bitcoin in some ways will not just appeal to the economy but to tourism as well.