inks deal with Beep amid Bitcoin uncertainties

Cover Art Erka Capili Inciong

Words by

Digital Reporter

There seems to be no relief yet for virtual currencies (VC) traders in the country after a series of new unfavorable pronouncements from the central bank.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. recently maintained the institution’s stand on the digital currency, saying VCs like Bitcoin, Etherium, and Ripple are not proper mediums of exchange or investment vehicles. He also expressed the BSP’s concern on the possible use of VCs in illegal activities such as money laundering and terrorist financing.

“We earnestly caution the public that before speculating and investing their hard‑earned money in cryptocurrency, as with any other type of currencies, prospective investment should know and fully understand the risks involved,” Espenilla said in his speech in a business forum last week.

Yet despite such critical statements, as well as regulation and security issues, the popularity of VCs continues to grow in the country, with companies—startups in particular—pushing through with initiatives that involve the new form of currency.

Digital Bitcoin exchange service and mobile payment platform, for instance, is not showing any slowdown in its operation. The company continued to collaborate with local business for easy‑payment methods, with Beep being its latest partner.

With the partnership, Beep card users can already reload using their stored money on the mobile app by just tapping the card at the back of their phone. Beep cards are currently used by a 4 million Filipinos as a mode of payment in Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines 1 and 2 and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3, Family Mart, Robinson’s Cinema, as well as in South Luzon Express Way and North Luzon Expressway tollways, among others.

While it does not involve Bitcoin or any VC’s, the deal manifests the company’s confidence in continuing and even expanding its operation in the Philippines. It also shows the strength of the company’s other mobile payment services as a source of profit for the business.

“Cryptocurrency is just one product that we offer and in general blockchain technology is not slowing down,” CEO and founder Rone Hose told SparkUp during the launch of the deal on March 19 in Makati City. “The interest is increasing and increasing. We’re seeing more financial institution adapting it for cross‑boarder settlements.”

Blockchain is the underlying technology that enables VCs to work. According to Hone, this advancement enables fintech companies to “facilitate better and more efficient transactions.”

“Our core mission is to make it easier for people to access financial services, be it remittance, bill payments, load, and now we’re getting into transportation,” he said. “We look at Blockchain as a technology that helps us provide our services. It’s more of a means to the end, and the end is really giving people access to banking and other financial services.”

The partnership also marks’s latest initiative aimed at promoting cashless transactions in the country. The company also previously tied up with Asia‑based e‑commerce platform MetroDeal, which allowed the latter to accept Bitcoin as a mode of payment.