The Philippines presents a very unique case in the world not only for its high internet user figures (over 80%) but in the cryptocurrency technology as well. In the middle of the COVID-19 global pandemic that has prompted most traditional banks around the world to close or work for only a few hours a day, the Philippines seems to get away with this inconvenience.
You might think there is a mistake in the headline, but you will be wrong. This word has been invented by the Philipinos as a new name for Bitcoin remittance, which is getting more and more popular all around the country. So don’t get shocked to hear this word on the streets of Manila.
The term has got its name from the Rebit service, which allows converting BTC into local pesos. With more than 10,000 payout locations spread all across the country, it is convenient for anyone to get their cash regardless of where they are located in the country.
This innovation appears to be a sustainable community solution in a country where nearly 90% of adults do not have a bank account, and yet international remittances constitute at least 11% of the national GDP. The innovation does not require a bank account and things get done by just a few paperwork. Besides the money transfer services offered by the partner payout agents, the innovation went an extra mile to incorporate some sort of loans for those in need of quick spending money.
No wonder it has gone so popular in the country, especially amidst the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused people to switch online. Therefore, Philipinos do not really suffer from the necessity to minimize cash usage, as they seem to trust cryptocurrency more than traditional banking institutions. Besides, as many Philipinis work abroad and are now forced to stay in foregn countries due to quarantine, they need to transact somehow anyway. And that is also a good reason for the growth of rebittance.
In such a situation, it seems only natural that banks are doing their best to compete with its decentralized alternative and lure their clients back. Everybody needs to earn their slice of bread, banks are no exception.
Back in 2019, the Union Bank of the Philippines launched a centralized banking system dubbed i2i connecting rural banks that were excluded from international payment networks such as SWIFT. Such a system facilitates access of people living in rural areas to the country-wide banking network. Bloomberg reported that it has already connected 35 rural banks with 150 branches and 250,00 accounts.
However, the system only works inside the country. Those who want to send money to their families from abroad still need to search for other alternatives. Thus, it seems very likely that the number of cryptocurrency transactions in the Philippines will grow further.