In the ever-evolving world of Bitcoin and the various crypto systems, what’s become quite a sticking-point is how you actually use the Bitcoin infrastructure around the world.
Also Read: What is Bitcoin? – Beginner’s Guide
In what are known as Digital Asset Exchanges (places where you trade your Bitcoin for real world money), you’re meant to purchase Bitcoin from other people, in order to then forward it onto others via digital wallet software.
The most important thing to consider is that although Bitcoin has been hyped to oblivion, leading to high volatility in its price, the underlying issue for most people is actually be able to utilize the various exchanges which support it…
Not only do some of the more reliable exchanges not support certain countries, but others have banned them entirely.
The point is that in countries with less developed political & financial infrastructure – such as the Philippines – finding a reliable exchange is quite a challenge, especially if you actually wanted to use the BTC to buy products.
This is where Coins.ph comes into the equation – designed to provide Filipinos with the ability to use BTC to buy products from everyday businesses. Whilst a novel concept, the big question is whether it’s reliable and actually works. This article aims to discover its underlying value.
What is Coins.ph?
Like Coinbase and the swathe of other cryptocurrency exchanges, Coins.ph provides users with the ability to buy and sell Bitcoin with others, specifically in the Philippines.
However, it also goes a step further and combines a number of important features including facilitating in-game purchases, phone credit top-up, bill payments and prepaid phone usage.
Whilst there are a number of systems (particularly in the US) which provide similar functionality, none allow the same scope of usage mixed with the ability to directly purchase the coins from the system itself.
To this end, its localized nature and scope of features offered, Coins.ph gives users the ability and freedom to utilize their money in the most effective way possible.
Further to this, having raised $5m from a slew of Silicon Valley venture firms in 2017, Coins.ph is widely being regarded as the leading Bitcoin exchange in South-East Asia.
The most important thing to realize here is that whilst Bitcoin is pretty much a standard means of transaction in the US and Western Europe, most of the population of South-East Asia don’t even have bank accounts.
Consequently, the promise of a system which allows them to pay for products online is a major one – especially when they don’t even need to have a bank account to do it.
This is the real draw of Coins, and is really just an extension of the wider Bitcoin ideal in itself — the idea that anyone no matter where they are located or under what circumstances, should have the ability to transact with others without the need for a central bank or regulator to oversee it all.
As mentioned, this is a big promise, which makes it quite interesting to see if they’re able to pull it off.
How does it work?
Like all other crypto exchanges, the Coins.ph system works by accepting payments in fiat currency (PHP), exchanging them for Bitcoin (which are only available from other people), and then allowing you to send those coins to whomever you need…
The important thing to understand is that – just like in the US & Europe, Bitcoins are somewhat exclusive and thus the price you end up paying for them will depend entirely on the current market conditions, and whether the price of each coin is low or high that day.
Apart from being able to exchange currency (via Bitcoin), the service is able to provide users with the ability to perform a number of other functions, from paying for bills to sending money to family or friends.
To briefly explain the process, Coins.ph basically acts as your middleman for fiscal transactions using the BTC network. For a small exchange fee, you’re able to buy BTC through their network (or upload your own), and then send it to other people.
As mentioned, one of the ways you’re able to send the coins is by doing it either through a phone top-up, or by sending it straight to a bank to pay a bill. After you have the BTC in your account, Coins.ph is able to handle the rest.
Is it effective?
Whilst there are some things to iron out in terms of identity verification, and the way in which the system is able to handle payments, and the majority of the other functionality it supports is generally very simple & easy to use.
In terms of the front-end app (wallet), not only is simple to use & navigate, but is actually supremely effective in terms of transaction times & settlement fees. Unlike the majority of other wallets, which typically rely on some sort of proprietary infrastructure, Coins makes the most use of the Bitcoin network.
On top of this, one of the more underrated aspects of crypto wallet technology is the way in which they’re able to be used. Some wallets are notoriously difficult to get working, typically because they have all sorts of identification issues and problems with the core way in which they’re able to store the various cryptocurrencies on your device.
The beautiful thing about Coins.ph is that it’s not only able to provide specific functionality, but does so with an entirely interlinked service which provides users with the ability to determine where and how their Bitcoin can be spent.
Ultimately, the measure of effectiveness for a product like this lies not in the way in which the service works, but in how extensive its external factors are. Factors such as how reliable (uptime) the overall service is, how much functionality is contained within it, and how it’s able to provide users with the ability to buy & use more Bitcoins.
To this end, Coins.ph works extremely well…
The most important thing to consider with the system is its wider functionality.
Unlike many of the exchanges in the West, Coins.ph is more of a cultural play, rather than a hardcore financial vehicle. Consequently, when you look at how it’s been promoted, what its core principles are and why it’s been created – you begin to see something that’s trying to use the new Bitcoin infrastructure as a change for good within the area.
Whilst – obviously – the system still needs to maintain its world-class financial accountability, what we’ve begun to see is a move towards more of a service provider, where people too poor (or unwilling) to adopt to modern tastes can enjoy some of the creature-comforts afforded by them.
We felt the bill pay feature was especially interesting – the ability to cover your expenses solely with Bitcoin — the exchange handling all the transactions and currency management on your behalf. It might not seem like a lot, but when considering the limited nature of Bitcoin wallets in the West, it’s a welcome reminder that it’s not all cut-throat business tacts in the crypto space.
Ultimately, the ability for the system to deliver on its promise – to give people the chance to send/receive money digitally (without any central bank), and the ability for those people to pay their bills, top up their phones and enjoy a host of other services, makes Coins.ph the leader for a reason.
Furthermore, just like CoinBase in the US/UK, its financing of $5m+ have certainly marked it with the sign of accountability. It’s generally very rare that a service would receive such favourable terms for investment if it wasn’t as effective and had the potential that coins does. Consequently, if you live in SE Asia, and are looking to send/accept payments through the Internet, using Coins.ph may be a very effective way to do it…
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Unfortunately since months after the launch Coins.ph still refuse to incorporate Bitcoin Cash. It is forcing users in the Philippines to pay outrageous fees and face lengthy delays, not to mention that all this is in the most unpredictable manner. There is end user demand for Bitcoin Cash, it would be good business for Coins.ph and yet they insist on not providing this service to their customers.
It’s a shame when some businesses work against the interest of their customers.