The newly elected board of the Bitcoin Organization of the Philippines (BOP) aims to work with the central bank or Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to create a legal framework for the digital currency in the country.
The plan comes in the wake of the Philippine government regulating popular app-based ride sharing services such as Uber and GrabCar. BOP hopes a similar legal framework will be created for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
“The government has realized that the key to our country’s prosperity is technology, and the next sector we must regulate within it is crystal clear – Bitcoin,” said BOP member Joe Maristela, adding that the cryptocurrency could prove to be a valuable conduit for remittances.
According to BOP, Filipinos who send remittances (domestic or international) through Bitcoin will save money compared to sending the same amount via traditional money transfer services.
BOP stressed such scheme not only benefits the remitter but also the country since the money saved in the transaction is pumped back into the economy through spending on goods or in businesses.
“Uber and GrabCar were regulated because they serve the Filipino people. They make traveling from point A to point B easier, cheaper, and more efficient. In much the same way, Bitcoin should be regulated because it also serves the Filipino people. It makes sending money from point A to point B easier, cheaper, and more efficient,” Maristela said.
Formed in 2014, BOP is the first and only non-profit organisation registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission dedicated to advancing Bitcoin adoption in the Philippines. It was formed partly in response to the BSP’s advise to the local Bitcoin community to have an official organisation that could help the virtual currency’s advancement and regulation.
Maristela said BOP is looking forward to evangelize the benefits of Bitcoin across the Philippines by holding educational workshops, informal meetups, and other events.
Other newly elected BOP members are Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI) CEO and founder John Bailon, and JJ Disini, the managing partner of Disini & Disini Law Office.
A serial entrepreneur in the healthcare industry, Maristela is also an angel investor who recently led the seed round of Bitcoin umbrella company SCI and the co-founder and publisher behind Cointelegraph Philippines.
“Trying to drive Bitcoin adoption is always an uphill battle. Yet I find confidence in knowing that Filipinos are some of the most tech savvy people in the world,” Maristela said. “Just look at where Uber and GrabCar were a year or two ago, and where they are today, with their recent legalization. I believe that Bitcoin can find similar acceptance in the Philippines.”