With the announcement that the Philippines is building a “Crypto Valley of Asia” (CVA) in the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), cryptocurrency once again took the national spotlight as a potential key industry in the country.
The Philippines is not alone in its bid to build a crypto hub. It’s competing in a bullish fintech, crypto, and blockchain ecosystem in Asia Pacific. Japan and Korea in East Asia, for example, are some of the friendliest countries towards cryptocurrency in Asia. But Southeast Asia also finds itself emerging as one of the most promising up-and-coming crypto markets. For instance, Thailand has established one of the biggest cryptocurrency hubs in the region.
Generally, Southeast Asia itself stands out as a promising region for the industry given its crypto-friendly regulations, ICO launches, start-up development, and number of mobile users. The region has some of the largest unbanked sectors, having one of the lowest numbers of bank depositors. Very few are able to avail of financial services in the formal sector. But with one of the highest numbers of mobile phone and mobile internet users, Southeast Asia provides the optimum environment for the adoption of fintech and crypto solutions.
And because financial inclusion is an imperative for Southeast Asian people, the region’s governments and private sectors look to fintech, cryptos and blockchain to further drive inclusive economic growth, the rise of their middle classes, and prosperity given greater participation in a more vibrant digital economy.
Build it and they will come
Eight hectares of land will be dedicated to the Philippines’ Crypto Valley of Asia (CVA), with CEZA expecting the generation of $68 million from licensing. Already, 17 crypto companies have paid in full for their enterprises to be located or have a presence in the country. CVA will feature a Blockchain University slated to go up and supported by a Korean company.
Yet, establishing any crypto hub can be tricky. It is a paradox of sorts: despite all the optimism driving global blockchain growth, cryptocurrency can also be very unpredictable in markets that are just in their infancy. Amidst all this, mass adoption is key to stability.
Which begs the question, “Will the people really come?” What does it take to open the doors for ordinary folk who are the intended beneficiaries of their government’s economic empowerment programs?
Cryptos as a way of life: Not just tech superiority; real-life applications
A crypto hub like CEZA must not exist in isolation and needs the support of a thriving cryptocurrency ecosystem and community to grow it. Essentially, crypto hubs across Asia must make sure that their cutting edge fintech and crypto technologies are made visible, accessible, and functional for communities.
In other words, crypto hubs must go beyond showcasing the technologies that they want consumers to adopt and instead push these as a way-of-life for their communities.
This is what will facilitate the widespread usage of the technology, with the hopes of making it as commonly-used as paper money. Or as Pundi X, a Jakarta-based crypto and blockchain leader, puts it: to make it as easy and commonplace as buying something as essential as bottled water.
Pundi X itself is in the midst of an aggressive rollout of point-of-sale systems that are essential if cryptocurrencies are to be used in everyday transactions. The Pundi XPOS systems introduced recently in Hong Kong and Taiwan allow people to use their cryptocurrency to transact for goods and services in real-world stores.
Generally, the Pundi XPOS systems are installed in partner establishments to facilitate transactions in cryptocurrency. Customers can even load up their e-wallets with cryptocurrencies by making use of the XPOS in partner establishments. The system makes use of Pundi X’s NPXS tokens to facilitate all these transactions, offering these tokens as rewards and incentives for continuous usage. All this is provided in an efficient and user-friendly system to ensure no hiccups in usage.
For many emerging crypto hubs, POS systems should make up the vital cogs that inject vibrancy, speeding up the adoption of cryptocurrency and ultimately bringing the benefits of blockchain to the mainstream market. For Cagayan’s CVA to succeed, it must – in the parlance of tech companies – “eat its own dog food,” or implement in the community the very products it wants to spread across the nation and the world. In addition to POS systems, CVA should also have crypto ATMs, such as those manufactured by Bitcoin Exchange Singapore.
Therefore, in CVA, digital wallets should be like passports: everyone should have one. Fortunately, Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI), one of the country’s flagship fintech companies, has mobile money wallet BitBit that consumers can easily use. A company like SCI could also build a trading floor that would encourage community members to actively trade in popular and nascent digital currencies.
In short, CVA should be more than just a place where top cryptocurrency and fintech companies are located – we can establish it on the world’s tech map by showing that the solutions we believe are the future can be used seamlessly today.