With over 10 million of its population working abroad, the Philippines is one of the biggest sources of foreign workers and expatriates. These people send billions of dollars back to the country and contribute more than 10% of its gross domestic product (GDP). Remittance-focused platforms that employ blockchain could greatly benefit migrant workers, allowing them to send money home in a simpler, faster way.
Recent data from the country’s central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), showed that remittances from overseas Filipino workers totaled $28.1 billion in 2017, rising by a higher-than-expected 4.3% year-on-year.
Globally remittances reached $596 billion in 2016, providing a lifeline to millions of people, DW cited World Bank economist Dilip Ratha as saying. Transferring these funds is done in a variety of ways, among them peer-to-peer transactions, bank deposits, or remittance services. However, these processes take time and often result in losses to the sender when the currency conversion. The World Bank estimates that remittances cost an average of 7.13% of the total amount sent, not to mention the number of days it takes to complete the transaction.
In light of all these issues, blockchain and cryptocurrencies should be the option of choice for migrant workers when sending money home. Ironically, the technology supposed to make things easier and cheaper for them is often frowned upon by the very market it seeks to serve because it seems both complicated and vulnerable to fraud.
These migrant workers are unaware that all transactions on blockchain are impossible to alter and the peer-to-peer network removes the necessity for a bank to keep a record of the accounts.
Jay Stark, a self-styled blockchain evangelist, says he prefers blockchain platforms over banks, noting:
"It's much easier than having to take time out of your day, go to a bank, sign documents, provide various forms of ID, making a pin, and only during the hours of 10 and 5 in the afternoon. You can basically download a bank on your phone and transact at any time across any time zone."
Recently, Singapore-based LaLa World inked an agreement with Rebit.ph, one of the first blockchain-powered remittance service providers in the Philippines, to cater to unbanked Filipinos and provide cash transfer services.
In a joint statement, LaLa World and Rebit.ph said their partnership aims to remove the technological barriers that “separate the technically savvy from the rest while providing broader access to financial services in the Philippines.”
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