THE reputation of cryptocurrency usage in the Philippines faces a significant challenge due to numerous scams, according to a payment fintech, highlighting the primary issue surrounding the adoption of digital currencies in the country.

“Bitcoin has suffered reputational damage due to the many cryptocurrency scams and ponzi schemes in the space, but it’s nothing that [it] won’t overcome,” Pouch.ph Chief Executive Officer Ethan Rose told BusinessWorld in an e-mailed reply to questions on Tuesday.

“We encourage traditional businesses not to gamble with copycat coins which were designed to enrich the founders and VC (venture capitalist)-backers, but rather to utilize the only truly decentralized currency,” he added.

He also said that small businesses in the Philippines have the opportunity to attract foreign customers who are willing to spend more by incorporating digital payment systems.

“One of the significant challenges for the growth of small businesses is the availability of payment methods, with credit cards charging fees up to 3%.”

Businesses can “support seamless payments from foreign e-wallets and attract a new base of high-paying customers with minimal fees,” as it allows those without credit cards or even local currency to make online or in-store purchases, he added.

Because there is a large pool of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)  in the Philippines, ranging from mom-and-pop stores to boutique hotels, incorporating fintech solutions will streamline processes and improve efficiency for a significant portion of the population, both local and foreign, he noted.

Visa’s 2023 Consumer Payments Attitude study found that 62% of Filipinos carry less cash because digital options are now available.

Over 400 small businesses in the Philippines are now learning to accept and process crypto payments through Pouch.ph, Mr. Rose said.

The platform allows customers to pay by scanning a merchant’s QR code with a Bitcoin wallet, converting the Bitcoin currency to Philippine peso and sending the money directly to the merchant’s bank or mobile cash app.

The digital payment platform said it has launched its services in Boracay, with more than 250 local businesses now accepting Bitcoin payments. The company also hopes to onboard more merchants in Cebu City, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Bacolod City, and Metro Manila. — Brontë H. Lacsamana