by JP Buntinx
The Philippines are an important remittance corridor, which is being explored by money transfer services and Bitcoin companies alike. A new partnership between Fexco and Encash focuses on establishing a mobile cash withdrawal solution in the region. That particular partnership may have an impact on Bitcoin remittance in The Philippines, but it also an opportunity.
Cash remains the dominant form of exchanging value in the Philippines right now. The majority of the population is unbanked, with limited or no access to financial services. Remittance solutions are critical to the local economy, as they bring fresh capital to the country. Bitcoin companies such as Rebit.ph have been exploring these opportunities as well and have seen their fair share of success.
But Fexco and Encash are looking to raise the bar by introducing mobile cash withdrawals. Eligible users will still need to own a BancNet card, which should result in easier access to cash. It is difficult to come by an ATM in The Philippines, despite the country being cash-centric. The national ATM penetration rate is just 23 percent, compared to a global average of 70 percent.
The way this system works is as follows: the Fexco EasyDebit system uses mobile point-of-sale devices. Customers can use their mobile phones to withdraw cash using their ATM card. There are multiple local accredited merchants offering this service already. In doing so, consumers would no longer have to travel to an ATM, which can be hundreds of miles away in some cases.
Advertised as a plug-and-play solution, there is next to no installation requirement for merchants looking to offer this service. Additionally, they can generate more revenue through the EasyDebit mobile app. With no minimum transaction amount or average daily balance requirements, this mobile cash withdrawal solution can become quite powerful over the coming years.
While the required BancNet card is used by 75 million holders to date, consumers cannot obtain it without having a bank account already. Considering how this can be a problem for a large amount of Filipinos, this solution may not make a major impact right away. It is a good concept nonetheless, and one that may be embraced by Bitcoin companies active in this region of the world.
An Opportunity For Bitcoin Remittances
Competition in the remittance market is also the basis of future innovation. The mobile cash withdrawal option is well worth exploring by companies such as Rebit.ph. Although Bitcoin makes it easy to send and receive money without a bank account or a BancNet card, it still needs to be converted to fiat.
Rebit offers a variety of ways to convert incoming Bitcoin transactions to fiat currency. Users can select between bank account deposits, cash pickups or a direct pickup at the company headquarters. However, that may still require a lot of travelling for some users. Embracing a similar mobile point-of-sale service may be well worth considering, although it would have to be modified so a BancNet card would not be required.