In the Philippines, the #CryptoPH Community is decentralized. It is not just focused on the National Capital Region; there are communities in Davao, Baguio, Cabanatuan, and the home of Daragang Magayon, Bicol.
How were these communities formed when most community meetups happened in Manila? Has government participation played a role? Is adoption mainly because of cryptocurrencies and play-to-earn games?
Melissa Mesias, the CEO of SparkLearn EdTech discussed regional crypto, web3, and blockchain adoption on the 26th edition of the BitPinas Webcast, moderated by BitPinas Editor-in-Chief Michael Mislos.
Blockchain Use Cases Will Attract More to Join the Ecosystem
- When Mesias learned about Bitcoin and blockchain technology in 2017, she admitted that she did not know well about the fundamentals of this emerging technology. However, she discovered the technology behind it.
- “So since bear market, wala namang magawa, inaral ko na lang. I learned the fundamentals of blockchain. Sabi ko, ‘maganda pala itong blockchain,’ dahil marami siyang problems na maso-solve, like double spending and issues about intermediary fees. Sabi ko, ‘this could be a potential game changer in the future.’”
- The CEO also emphasized that what she realized when she was entering the world of blockchain technology was that the technology is more than just crypto.
- “The most favorite features of blockchain technology are trust and transparency, which are very rare in this world.”
The Crypto Community of Bicol
- According to Mesias, even before the pandemic came, the crypto community in Bicol was already active. However, because of the series of lockdowns, SparkLearn’s founders decided to create an online educational platform. Mesias started as a business consultant and marketing specialist for the startup before becoming the CEO. SparkLearn was also once a subsidiary of SparkPoint Technologies before it became an independent startup.
- What is good about the Bicol community is that it focuses more on blockchain developments and not marketing services. That it is more on producing developers and builders in the space, as per Mislos.
- “Dito sa Bicol, more on developer-centric iyong community namin. As much as possible, we are focusing on building decentralized products using blockchain technology; and the difference I noticed between other regions is that in terms of the community we have here in Bicol, it is already mature in understanding the ins and outs of the tech itself.”
The Role of Local Businesses, Institutions, and Government Institutions in Region V’s Crypto Landscape
- “We’re fortunate here in Region V to have supportive regional offices, especially DTI, DICT, DOST. Ever since I went into the blockchain industry, whenever we have activities, these regional offices always support us in in terms of at least funding or you know, just attending the event giving their messages of support and giving their insights.”
- For Mesias, the crypto community in Bicol has a close relationship with these regional government institutions, and whenever they need someone to enlighten them about the blockchain, they go to the community.
- “Isa iyon sa magandang collaboration dito sa Bicol, kasi hindi lang kami basta-basta pinapabayaan ng regional offices dito.”
- “Personally, I am very grateful for the support that we get from our regional offices as well as central offices. Kasi at least, we have this understanding na we are not alone in this journey. But of course, it is not an easy one.”
- Mesias also revealed that there is an agreement that SparkLearn is working on with the government and the Albay ICT Council to produce an innovation hub. The startup will be the one to deploy the training programs of the innovation.
Crypto Payment Adoption in Bicol
- Mesias shared that she has talked to some local businessmen that fear the market’s volatility. “When they accept crypto payments. Since it’s highly volatile, how can they ensure that they will get the right ROI?”
- Some Bicolanos also prefer using cash than e-wallets, like GCash, Maya, and even Coins and PDAX.
- “One particular experience that I had was I encountered a startup here in Albay. Ang first product sana nila ay digital mobile wallet for PUVs, but they needed to pivot because they learned that most people here in Albay, hindi sila ganoon kasanay (sa cashless transactions).”
Barriers to Crypto Adoption in Bicol Region
- The CEO admitted that infrastructures, most specifically with internet coverage, is one of the problems that Bicolanos faced in accessing the technology.
- “Ang hirap ituro ng blockchain kasi mismong yung fundamentals ng ibang Pinoy sa web2, web1, or other basic technologies ay mahina. So, kapag tinuturo iyong crypto sa kanila, iniisip nilang scam iyan.”
- Lastly, the lack of financial literacy among Filipinos is still the primary barrier in adopting web3. “May times kasi na wala tayong maayos na understanding ng financial (state). Others think that kapag pinasok iyong crypto, yayaman agad sila kinabukasan.”
- “At least iyong mga ganoong barriers dapat ma-overcome natin to have a better usage of crypto here in the country.”
How Do Government Agencies Respond to These Barriers?
- With the infrastructure barrier, Mesias stressed that regional offices assured them that they would provide stronger internet and fewer brownout sessions.
- “Marami na kaming conversations for that with the government and the supplier, kaso it takes time daw eh. Pero time is the most valuable asset when we are trying to solve things, so I resolved it on my own.”
- But when it comes to crypto education, the CEO expressed her satisfaction when the regional offices became aware about crypto education in the region.
- “They want to correct the misconceptions from the experts themselves. Doon nagkakaroon ng collaboration between the government and the private industry.”
Mesias Vision on Web3 Growth in Other Parts of the Country
- “Isa lang naman and word na naiisip ko eh—I want it to be distributed as much as possible. Kasi iyon din naman ang essence ng blockchain. That is why I am happy na aside from Bicol, may iba pang places na may community.”
- Mesias also emphasized that one of the good things about a distributed community is that whenever a local crypto community has an initiative that becomes effective, other local communities can adopt it.
- This is echoed by Mislos, who shared that being decentralized is what makes the industry beautiful.
This article is published on BitPinas: Understanding Regional Crypto and Web3 Adoption | BitPinas Webcast 26
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