- Blockchain technology is finding diverse applications in the Philippines.
- These applications include combating crypto scams, enhancing educational programs, securing budget-related documents, exploring Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), and reforming the electoral system.
- While blockchain adoption continues to grow, its potential for transformative change in the country remains promising, with ongoing initiatives and collaborations paving the way for a more secure and efficient future.
Blockchain, initially developed as the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, has evolved to revolutionize various sectors with its features of decentralization, transparency, and immutability. In the Philippines, this innovative technology has found remarkable applications, reshaping industries and empowering individuals.
Real-world Blockchain Use Case in PH
The country is witnessing a growing array of real-world applications for blockchain technology across various sectors. From combating crypto scams to revolutionizing education, enhancing the security of critical budget documents, exploring the potential of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), to reforming the electoral system, blockchain is making its presence felt as a transformative force in the country.
In this overview, BitPinas delves into these innovative use cases, showcasing how blockchain is reshaping the Philippine landscape.
During a BitPinas Webcast last August 23, 2023, Paul Soliman, CEO of BayaniChain, said blockchain can be used to detect crypto scams that are targeting both newcomers and experienced users. He highlighted the transparency of blockchain-based smart contracts to identify Ponzi schemes and stressed the importance of digital currencies being backed by tangible assets.
Soliman recommended decentralized exchange tools like GoPlus Security and DEXTools, along with tokensniffer.com, to prevent various types of scams. He emphasized the need for contract verification and cautioned against fake digital currencies.
Soliman also discussed the prevalence of phishing attacks in the crypto space, which often target normal banking activities. He explained that while blockchain systems are not unhackable, their immutability and transparency make it easier to track and catch fraudsters. Additionally, Soliman suggested using GoPlus Security and DEXTools for asset protection on decentralized exchanges and using tokensniffer.com to avoid honeypot scams.
Information Technology (IT) Education Expansion
Recently, more universities are partnering with blockchain firms to expand their information and technology curriculum.
This year, the Blockchain Lead Organization & Knowledge Center (The BLOKC) has forged partnerships with both Mapua University’s School of Information Technology and Lyceum University of the Philippines (LPU) to advance blockchain education in the Philippines.
In collaboration with Mapua University, The BLOKC’s efforts include structured internships, faculty training, curriculum review, and organizing hackathons and seminars. Mapua currently offers blockchain as an elective course, with plans to establish it as a specialization in the future. This partnership aims to position Mapua as a prominent institution in Information Technology and aligns with The BLOKC’s vision of making the Philippines a hub for emerging tech. Mapua is also actively involved in creating decentralized innovation centers in collaboration with government and industry stakeholders.
On the other hand, The BLOKC’s partnership with LPU concentrates on integrating blockchain education into LPU’s College of Technology (LPU-COT). LPU-COT, which previously offered a blockchain elective in collaboration with NEM Philippines, Inc., aspires to become a leading technology-focused higher education institution. This collaboration endeavors to equip students with essential skills for the dynamic blockchain industry. It encompasses various initiatives such as student internships, faculty development programs, hackathons, bootcamps, educational tours, seminars, and certifications. LPU-COT plans to integrate blockchain technology into its curricula and promote certification for faculty and students in the field.
Moreover, international blockchain firm nChain has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU). The partnership aims to promote and advance blockchain education at ADMU through the Ateneo Blockchain Laboratory research group.
The MOU will result in the addition of a blockchain leadership unit to ADMU’s course offerings in the second semester of 2023. Additionally, nChain will support ADMU’s Ph.D. students by providing access to patented intellectual properties and offering grants to bolster blockchain research in the Philippines.
Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)
In April 2022, the revealed its intention to launch a pilot project for a wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) known as “Project CBDCPh.” The initiative aims to enhance the stability of the Philippines’ payment system.
A CBDC is a digital currency that is centralized, issued, and regulated by a country’s central bank. It can function as a medium of exchange or a store of value and is essentially the digital counterpart of traditional national currency. Unlike cryptocurrencies, CBDCs are subject to regulation by the central bank and are influenced by factors such as a country’s monetary policies and trade surpluses.
According to the BSP, Project Agila will involve multiple local financial institutions, including BDO Unibank, Land Bank of the Philippines, Union Bank of the Philippines, and others, as well as fintech firm Maya Philippines, Inc. The collaboration with these institutions aims to test the application of wholesale CBDC technology in a controlled sandbox environment, focusing on inter-institutional fund transfers, even during off-business hours.
Moreover, the central bank aims to collaborate with international organizations such as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to align Project Agila with global standards in technical, risk management, and governance aspects.
Project Agila is viewed as a significant step toward understanding the opportunities and risks associated with wholesale CBDCs, with insights gained during the pilot phase informing the BSP’s future CBDC projects and enhancing the efficiency and safety of the national payment system.
Recently, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) launched “Project Marissa,” a blockchain-based initiative aimed at enhancing the security of budget-related documents. This project, led by Undersecretary Maria Francesca Del Rosario, is a collaborative effort between DBM, Hacktiv, Bayanichain, and Microsoft Azure.
Project Marissa is a project that seeks to integrate blockchain technology into the Action Document Releasing System (ADRS) in order to improve the security and efficiency of operations. It is named after Marissa Santos, Division Chief of DBM Administrative Service (AS)-Central Records Division, in recognition of her efforts to strengthen document validation controls within DBM.
The project will leverage blockchain technology, specifically Bayanichain’s hybrid blockchain called “Prublic,” which combines Polygon PoS and Azure Confidential Ledger. It will focus on enhancing the security of critical budget documents, such as the Special Allotment Release Orders (SARO) and Advice of Notice of Cash Allocation Issued (ANCAI).
SARO permits government agencies to spend a specified amount of money for a specific purpose within a set timeframe, while ANCAI signifies the release of cash funds to a particular government agency or office.
Project Marissa’s prototype and solutioning phase has been completed. The next phase will mint SARO documents to Polygon PoS using an ERC721-derived contract and Microsoft’s Azure Confidential Ledger. This will enhance security and operational efficiency, and ensure data confidentiality and resistance to tampering.
At the Consensus 2018 event in New York, Union Bank introduced Project i2i, a blockchain initiative that aims to integrate rural banks in the Philippines into the country’s financial system, particularly targeting the unbanked population. It provides a real-time, cost-effective, and secure retail payment system based on blockchain technology.
Project i2i uses the Kaleido blockchain platform to connect rural banks to the main financial network. It is the first blockchain to utilize the Ethereum network and the first blockchain software as a service (SaaS) available in the AWS marketplace. This allows them to perform essential banking functions that were previously limited to universal banks.
It was initially piloted by five Mindanao rural banks, including Cantilan Bank Inc, PR Savings Bank, City Savings Bank, FairBank, and Progressive Bank. As of October 2019, Project i2i had expanded, consisting of 35 rural banks across 150 branches and 250,000 accounts nationwide. It had processed over 335 transactions, with a transaction volume exceeding $1 million.
The project leveraged UnionBank’s own stablecoin, PHX, to facilitate transactions, enabling rural banks to connect to local Automated Clearing Houses and perform real-time blockchain-powered transactions.
Earlier this year, the Philippine Commission on Election (COMELEC) tried to explore the use of blockchain technology in automated elections.
During the National Election Summit, COMELEC conducted a breakout session titled “Use of Blockchain Technology in the Automated Election System.” The session featured speakers including Paul Soliman, CEO of Bayanichain, and Kenneth Stern, General Manager of Binance in the Philippines.
The event highlighted its exploration of blockchain technology as a means to bolster transparency, security, and trust within the electoral process. Accordingly, the was noted to aim to establish an unchangeable and secure voting record, fostering greater voter confidence and cost reduction by minimizing paper usage.
The proposed solution involves a hybrid blockchain model that seamlessly integrates public and private ledgers, striking a harmonious balance between scalability and transparency. While concerns regarding potential tampering persist, the blockchain’s operation remains discreet, ensuring accessibility for voters of all ages while safeguarding the electoral process’s integrity.
- COMELEC Conducts Session Exploring Blockchain Use in Automated Election
- [Event Recap Part 1] Advantages of Blockchain in Automated Elections
- Blockchain Integration in Automated Elections: A New Era for Philippine Democracy? COMELEC Raises Concerns
Prior to this, in 2021, the COMELEC conducted mock trials of blockchain-based voting to address the country’s low voter turnout. The trials aimed to enable Filipino residents, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), to vote from home in an effort to increase voter participation.
Currently, however, there are still no updates regarding the use of blockchain for elections.
These are just a few of the ways that blockchain is being used to improve the lives of people in the Philippines. As the technology continues to develop, it is likely that even more innovative applications will be found.
This article is published on BitPinas: 6 Real-World Examples of Blockchain Applications in PH
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