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Editing and Additional Reporting by Nathaniel Cajuday
- GCash’s Head of Partnerships for Crypto and Web3, Mark Nunez, and Chief Evangelist Officer of Bayanichain, Nikko Que, headlined the April edition of Bitcoin, Beer, and Bitstories on April 27, 2023.
- The event discussed GCash’s venture into the web3 space with its GCrypto feature and its newly released NFT collection, “House of Ohlala,” which was created by visual artist Reen Barrera.
- Nunez urged attendees and viewers to join the “GCrypto NFT Hub” Facebook group because future announcements will be announced in that group.
For its April edition, the monthly crypto community gathering Bitcoin, Beer, and Bitstories (BBB) highlighted the web3 innovations of mobile e-wallet GCash: the GCrypto feature and its newly released non-fungible token (NFT) collection, “House of Ohlala.” This month’s meetup was held on April 27, 2023, at the Draper Startup House Manila.
The event’s panel discussion was headlined by Mark Nunez, GCash’s Head of Partnerships for Crypto and Web3, and Nikko Que, the Chief Evangelist Officer of Bayanichain, and was moderated by BitPinas editor-in-chief Michael Mislos. Supposedly, Reen Barrera, the resident artist of Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery and the creator of the collection was part of the panel; however, he had to step back due to flu. The guests discussed GCrypto and the e-wallet’s venture into NFTs, as well as the future plans of its partner, Likha.
At the beginning of the panel discussion, Nunez and Que shared how they got started in crypto and NFTs.
For the GCrypto chief, he shared that he entered the space around 2017—he was still not a GCash employee. At the time, he shared that for him to be able to trade, he used to visit convenience stores to cash in on his spare salary.
“Nag-accelerate lang s’ya during the pandemic. For me, paano ba nakatulong yung crypto sa akin? My dad passed away in 2020, yung ginawa ko—’wag n’yo gagawin—‘yung insurance n’ya, I placed it all in crypto and nagkataon ‘yun ‘yung time na umangat ‘yung Bitcoin,” he said.
[“My crypto onboarding accelerated during the pandemic. How did crypto help me? When my dad passed away in 2020, I placed all of his insurance in crypto, and eventually, the price of Bitcoin went up.”]
According to Nunez, because of the 2021 bull run, he was able to pay all of his father’s bills and other expenses; the experience also further kicked off his journey to dive deeper into the space and make access to crypto in the country easier.
“That piqued my interest; why not look for an opportunity to join this space? (With just my simple experience) I want to be part of something to make it easier for others to venture or just participate and buy their first crypto. I was lucky that there’s GCash, and GCash allowed me to be part of their team to help launch GCrypto and now we’re introducing NFTs,” Nunez stated, sharing that he started with Gcash just last year.
On the other hand, Que acknowledged that he did not enter the cryptocurrency space early on. Initially, he was just testing the waters, but when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a series of lockdowns, he became more involved in it. He shared that what sparked his obsession with web3 was the closure of all his experiential sites such as museums and theme parks due to the pandemic, resulting in him being unable to provide financial aid to his employees.
“So it came to a point na I can’t keep giving ayuda. It’s eventually going to close. Then it came to the point na nag-a-Axie na silang lahat. They’re earning more than their salary. Natawid through the COVID. And that’s when I knew, there’s this thing with the microcap coins and crypto,” he shared.
He also added that playing Axie Infinity gave him the jumpstart to get into NFTs, which led to him meeting the Likha team.
Mislos tackled how GCash landed on integrating crypto and web3 into its platform, as curated by BitPinas, during the first part of the event.
“There was a meetup in 2018 where they mentioned about the things they want to do in blockchain; there were not a lot at that time, but we’ve learned more about GCrypto by 2021, this is the height of the Axie Infinity popularity, when they mentioned that they are going to add crypto in their e-wallet app,” he explained, noting that the official announcement for the GCrypto feature was just last 2022.
According to Nunez, the fintech firm took so long to integrate crypto into their app to make sure that users’ safety and privacy were prioritized.
“For GCash, we prioritized more the user experience… what really happened during that period was more of testing and bug fixes. And by the time na medyo malapit na, nagkataon lang na the market wasn’t (in a good place), alam n’yo naman ‘yung nangyari sa FTX,” he disclosed.
He also noted that GCash was really prepared for the launch by participating in the Philippine Web3 Fest and the Philippine Blockchain Week, which was in late 2022, but they halted their plans to wait for a better timing.
Last February, GCrypto was released to selected users for testing. On March 30, it was officially launched during the GCash Futurecast Summit 2023. And last Sunday, April 23, it was finally released to the public.
House of Ohlala NFT
One of GCash’s key projects is the NFT collection “House of Ohlala” by visual artist Reen Barrera, in partnership with homegrown NFT marketplace Likha and art gallery Vinyl on Vinyl.
Que noted how there is a demand for an art platform for local artists, adding that the collection will help onboard more NFT artists and collectors as GCash already has 77 million users:
“We were thinking, ano kaya ang best way to help onboard Filipinos into the space aside from play-to-earn and what we noticed (is that) ang raming talents here in the country in terms of art. And ‘yung struggle ng mga artist, after meeting them, is that they don’t know how to launch their own collection, but they are very open minded and interested, just like Reen.”
[“We were thinking, what is the best way to help onboard Filipinos into the space, aside from the play-to-earn industry? And what we noticed is that there are lots of talents here in the country in terms of art. And the struggle of those artists, after meeting them, is that they don’t know how to launch their own collection, but they are very open minded and interested, just like Reen.”]
Meanwhile, Nunez also shared that the creation of the GCash exclusive NFT collection was made possible through connections he has in the space and the help of Barrera.
“I just wanted to share, I’m very happy for those who minted because the majority of those are actually first-timers. They are collectors and fans of Reen, and it’s their first time to own an NFT,” he revealed.
As per Que, Likha’s main role in the partnership is to provide GCash with the technology for accessibility and seamlessness; “we really need to take out all of those layers to onboard.”
“When we found out that it’s Gcash, that’s millions of users. This is the window we really need for adoption especially here in the Philippines; there is no better platform for it,” he stated.
The “House of Ohlala” consists of 1,000 NFTs on the Polygon blockchain and are priced at 80 MATIC, or approximately ₱5,000.00, each.
What’s Next for GCash and Likha?
Unfortunately, Nunez emphasized that all future plans of GCash were announced during the firm’s FutureCast Summit on March 30, 2023.
However, he noted that the GCash team is doing its best to offer House of Ohlala NFT holders the best utilities they could offer:
“But for now, I think we’ll focus more on the exchange and making sure our NFTs and our holders are happy with the utilities that we will be doing.”
As of this writing, some of the benefits and utilities of holding a House of Ohlala NFT include:
- A chance to win one of four Ohlala statues made by Reen Barrera, which will be raffled every three months.
- A chance to have a jiggly print for those who own NFTs with the 1/1 editions only.
- Whitelist spot for upcoming NFT collections.
- Access to the collection’s merchandise.
Nunez also urged those who are interested to join the GCrypto NFT Hub Facebook group, because his team will post future updates and announcements about GCrypto to the said group.
“But we will announce more utilities coming soon. Just like any other NFT projects, ayaw naman naming ibigay lahat ng utilities all in one go, so be part of that group. And we’ll be releasing more details soon,” he highlighted.
[“But we will announce more utilities coming soon. Just like any other NFT project, we do not want to publicize the utilities of the project all in one go. So be part of that group and we’ll release more details there soon.”]
While for Likha, Que confirmed that “there will be a V2 announcement. You can watch out for that in the next few weeks. We’re gonna tell you about the new services, the new user experience. It’s going to be next level, and I’m sure a lot of you guys will enjoy it.”
“We’re currently working on it, and hopefully within Q3 we can release it already, but we are going multichain. So I guess that’s something we’ll talk about more during our V2 event about the next steps, but multi-chain? It’s the future, guys,” he concluded.
This article is published on BitPinas: [BBB Recap] BBB Highlights GCash’s GCrypto, “House of Ohlala” NFT
Disclaimer: BitPinas articles and its external content are not financial advice. The team serves to deliver independent, unbiased news to provide information for Philippine-crypto and beyond.