Based on the data from Statistica, the number of cryptocurrency users worldwide has increased by 190% from 2018 to 2020. This growth is evident in the rising number of crypto transactions in the Philippines. In 2019, Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) processed crypto transactions amounting to P14.9 billion. This figure has grown five times in just one year, with the VASPs processing around P76 billion in 2020.
Various factors contribute to the increase of interest in cryptocurrency in the Philippines. Melchor Plabasan of BSP’s Technology Risk and Innovation Supervision Department (TRISD) primarily attributed the surge in crypto activities to the increase in the value of cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin.
On October 20, 2021, bitcoin reached its highest price ever at $67,000. This means that at that time, a user can sell a single bitcoin at such a value. Although it is highly volatile, cryptocurrency offers opportunities for big profits, whether in the short term or long term.
Additionally, crypto-based content on social media is also fueling the trend and widening people’s awareness about virtual assets. With it, more Filipinos realize the value of cryptocurrency as an income-generating investment.
Cryptocurrency as a peer-to-peer payment option is also a growing concept in the country. 45% of Filipinos are still unbanked as of July 2021, with the lack of documentary requirements as one of the top reasons. With crypto, even unbanked, a person can buy bitcoin and other virtual assets with cash through various cash-in methods.
Various payment partners like Dragonpay and coins.ph facilitate the use of cryptocurrency as means of payment in the Philippines. Using these services, people can now use their digital assets to buy load, send money, and even purchase game credits. These developing capabilities are also slowly enabling the use of cryptocurrency in the e-commerce space.
Of course, the government’s support also helped move the growth of crypto forward. As early as 2014, BSP was already issuing advisories to inform the public about cryptocurrencies, their features, benefits, and risks. And recently, they released the regulatory framework for VASPs to broaden the scope of its previous guidelines and set out risk management expectations to the consumers.
The pandemic played a big role in the shift of the crypto movement in the Philippines. With restricted mobility, people are now looking into innovative ways to increase efficiency in transactions, especially in the payment system. Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology offers solutions for these challenges. As industry stakeholders realize this, the outlook for cryptocurrency also builds up.
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