February 6, 2020 – Pioneering crypto exchange and Bitcoin remittance company BitSpark announces it is closing down on March 4, 2020. Functionality remains in the meantime to give users enough time to withdraw their cryptocurrencies.
After March 4, 2020, account logins will be disabled for 90 days. Customers during this period can request withdrawal by contacting BitSpark’s customer service.
In a blog post, CEO George Harrap recounted the company’s beginnings, from being the first company to do end to end remittance via Bitcoin in 2014 to becoming the first one in Asia to have insurance coverage and fiat on-ramp.
In 2014 BitSpark, together with the Philippines Rebit.ph (a product of SCI Ventures) piloted a remittance corridor between Hong Kong and the Philippines. Rebit handled the conversion to Philippine Peso through its partner outlets.
Last April 2019, BitSpark announced the launch of a Philippine Peso or PHP-backed stable coin called peg.PHP. The launch is right about the time when UnionBank announced their stable coin while RCBC said they also intended to launch one. BitSpark said the first to utilize their peg.PHP is an Internet-of-Things (IoT) company called Okra Solar, which provided remote communities with access to cheaper electricity via solar energy.
I interviewed Mr. Harrap who said that operating via stablecoins enabled them to reduce counterparty risks and increase price efficiency.
BitSpark Co-Founder Maxine Ryan provided some clarity on the announcement. “As of a month ago, I made the decision to step down from my position as COO of BitSpark. This naturally caused a need to restructure the company which unfortunately landed this result,” Ms. Ryan said on Twitter.
While the company has Month-Over-Month growth, it was determined that the inconsistency of the market will make it unpredictable enough to continue. Also, the ongoing protest and coronavirus scare in Hong Kong where BitSpark is located were also cited as reasons.
This isn’t just a financial decision. This is out of respect to Bitspark users, #ZEPH holders and the team. No one should hold a stake in anything just for vanity of riches ahead. That’s a straight road to make bad decisions. It was do it now or later and faced with this, 6/
— Maxine Ryan (@MaxieRyan) February 3, 2020
Ms. Ryan acknowledged this is not the best scenario for its founders, customers, and shareholders but it was something that must be down now before it becomes a big hurdle in the future.
As the world’s 3rd largest recipient of remittances, the Philippine market is huge. BitSpark is located in Hong Kong where a large portion of remittances to the Philippines comes from. In 2014, BitSpark set up a booth for the first time in World-Wide Plaza in Hong Kong. George Harrap and Maxine Ryan handed forms to customer asking how much money they will send to the Philippines and into what bank it will be deposited. The process is usually within 24 hours and this was considered the first HK Dollars -> Bitcoin -> Philippine Pesos transaction.
This article is published on BitPinas: BitSpark, Pioneer of HK-PH Remittance via Bitcoin Closes Down