Vietnam turning to bitcoin to solve currency woes
The Vietnamese government’s stance on bitcoin is among the most hostile in the world, with a ban placed on financial institutions to prohibit them from transacting with virtual currencies. However, this has not stopped an eager public from embracing alternate payment methods as the government-backed dong continues its fall from grace.
Vietnam’s central bank responded to Bloomberg questions about the subject. The monetary authority said,
“ [it]has been warning organisations and individuals to not hold, invest or execute any transactions involving bitcoin or any other similar virtual currencies because possession, trading and utilisation of bitcoin and similar virtual currencies as assets pose risks and are not lawfully recognised nor protected”
Regardless of the Vietnamese government’s warnings, services and merchants within the country are beginning to accept bitcoin anyways in a push to move away from the Vietnamese dong, which has slipped 26% since 2004. US dollars, gold and now bitcoin are now being looked to as a more secure store of value in Vietnam’s uncertain economy. As faith in the dong continues to slide, bitcoin will become increasingly popular as a safe alternative to government-manipulated money.
Philippines-based bitcoin startup to produce prepaid bitcoin cards
A startup running several key bitcoin-related ventures in the Philippines has just launched a new product with the potential to induce a new wave of bitcoin use and adoption.
Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI), a self-described pioneer in the Philippine bitcoin industry, is a company producing several bitcoin related products for use in the Philippines. These include a wallet, an exchange and a faucet. However, the company has found that one of the biggest barriers to entry for users of their products is the difficulty of obtaining bitcoins when most of the population doesn’t have access to online banking or credit cards.
Enter prepaidbitcoin.ph, a prepaid card that allows people to purchase bitcoin in an easy to access format. These cards will be available for purchase at brick and mortar retailers across the Philippines. Consumers will be able to purchase a card, go to prepaidbitcoin.ph and enter the number on the back of the card and their wallet address into the website to have the bitcoins sent straight into their wallet. What a great idea to make bitcoin more accessible and less dependent on centralized banking systems. There is definitely a future for this startup.
Promising new bitcoin startup for developing world
One of the most discussed but least developed markets for cryptocurrency products has been the developing world. One product, Bitpesa, plans to turn this all around.
Bitpesa, the brain child of microfinancer Duncan Goldie-Scott and former banker Elizabeth Rossiello, is a system that will allow Kenyan immigrants living in the UK to send remittance back to their families using bitcoin. UK senders convert pounds into bitcoin, which are transferred using the program and converted into local Kenyan shillings.
Remittance is a huge industry in Kenya, with over 1 billion dollars being remitted back home in 2013. However, transaction costs for remittance can be very high and can be inconsistent, ranging anywhere from 6-13%. Bitpesa plans to abolish transfer fees and charge a competitive exchange rate of 3%. The transfer process itself will also be relatively painless. Bitpesa transactions are designed to occur within minutes and be sent right to a mobile phone, bypassing the need for banking.
The market for remittance and other types of mobile money transfers in the developing world is going to keep on growing. It is good to see bitcoin technology being developed for all types of needs worldwide, proving its worth as a global currency.