Today we are interviewing Miguel Cuneta from SCI Ventures Inc in the Philippines. SCI are the leading company in that country working with bitcoin based remittances and payments. Here are some valuable insights from Miguel:
To start with, please introduce yourself to our readers.
I'm Miguel Cuneta, co-founder and Chief Community Officer of SCI Ventures Inc., the biggest blockchain service company in the Philippines today. I co-founded SCI back in 2014 with some like-minded friends, all of whom were entrepreneurs like me.
Please tell us how you first became involved in Bitcoin? What attracted you to it?
I found out about Bitcoin in 2013 when the price was $30 USD per BTC. I ignored it at first, and only after several months more did I take notice again when it was already $150 per BTC. I decided to look deeper into it and, as the saying goes, I fell in the rabbit hole and never looked back. The thing that attracted me to Bitcoin was the amazing technology behind it — a way for people to take back the power of money creation as well as trade and commerce away from the kings and oligarchs and governments of the world. In the Philippines back in 1986, we had what was called the People Power Revolution, where Filipinos took to the streets in peaceful protest and were able to kick out a dictator of 30 years. We believe that Bitcoin is the "People Power" of money and finance.
What made you decide to set up a Bitcoin based remittance company in the Philippines?
We started our business with a payment processor, Bitmarket.ph. Soon we learned that most people want to save and hold Bitcoin and not spend it for coffee or shopping! So we decided to go after the biggest market in the Philippines which is the remittance market. Over $27 BILLION was sent to the PH last year alone, and people are paying an average of 8–10% in fees just to send this money home to their loved ones. We thought Bitcoin was the perfect technology to address this problem, so we built Rebit.ph, and from there it just picked up rapidly and our team grew fast along with our transaction volumes and revenues.
How big is your team at SCI?
We are almost 50 now, including the management team.
What is the annual value of incoming remittances to the Philippines?
Over 10 million Filipinos work abroad, sending home $27 Billion annually so far. This is increasing every year.
What are the remittance services which you are offering?
With Rebit.ph, you can use Bitcoin or any Crypto (via shapeshift) to send money to anyone and have it either picked up in cash in as many as 10,000 different locations, as well as deposited in any bank account in Philippine pesos. You can also use it to pay your bills or buy mobile phone credits.
What other services does your company offer?
You can check out our full suite of services at www.sci.ph. We have a buy and sell site for Bitcoin, a merchant payment processor, a remittance platform, a mobile money and Bitcoin wallet, an investment app using bitcoin, prepaid bitcoin cards, and even a social platform called lifebit. We are also working on an identity management platform and a cryptocurrency exchange for Filipinos.
Were there many regulatory hurdles to overcome?
Yes, but we are lucky that our Central Bank is very progressive and allowed us to operate and even participate in the development of the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in the Philippines. We are one of the first countries with a Central Bank that published specific regulations for cryptocurrnecy exchanges.
How is the rate of adoption of Bitcoin in the Philippines?
It is still very early, but I would say it is growing faster by the day.
Do you see traditional services such Western Union being displaced by the quicker and cheaper services offered by your company?
Yes. And not only that, we also believe that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies will completely make those old models obsolete, just like how the internet made many analog and off-line business models obsolete.
What expansion plans do you have for the future?
We are growing by the day, and our plans are to develop and streamline our already wide range of products and services so that everyone can access them and use them easily and effortlessly.
Have you invested in any other crypto projects or become involved in other crypto startups?
As a company, SCI has acquired Buybitcoin.ph, lifebit.com, and silicon valley startup Getkeza.com. These are startups that we saw would fit in well with our platform. Personally, I like the Particl Project because of its solid team and great tech behind it. I also invested in Ethereum and some other projects.
How do you see Bitcoin and crypto at large in the next 3–5 years in Asia?
Bitcoin and Crypto have not even begun to touch mainstream acceptance. I see an expotential explosion in the development of the tech and the industry as a whole, with a market cap easily exceeding one trillion dollars or more. We will also see some big banks and governments even, adopting bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and crypto has yet to find that "Killer app", but it will come. Money will flow around the world as fast as information, and this will bring in a new era of prosperity for a lot of people.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies represent a fundamental shift in the way we see trade, ownership, and trust. We will see one of the biggest transfers of wealth in the history of humanity because of cryptocurrencies. Blockchain technology will replace market networks in the near future, making decentralized meritocratic and democratic networks overtake our current centralized structures for finance, governance, and many other aspects of our daily lives. Cryptocurrency and blockchain tech will be seen as the biggest technological advancement in human history after the internet itself.