I recently wrote an article about Bitcoin for Adobo Magazine. I got the chance to interview some interesting people. One of them is Scott Si of Coins.ph. He agreed to let me post our email interview here.
Would you say we are moving towards a single universal currency, like what you see in some movies and TV shows? The short-lived TV show Almost Human (starring Karl Urban) used Bitcoin as a universal currency.
That’s an exciting thought, but we don’t see Bitcoin as a replacement to fiat currency or the existing financial system. Rather, it serves to augment it. The current banking system relies on physical and IT infrastructure that is just too expensive to serve most people, who in contrast, have little or no savings. By providing a more efficient way to transfer value and reduce the reliance on cash, Bitcoin (and the technology powering it, the Blockchain) can save costs for government, banks, and end consumers. In effect, this will also increase the number of people that can be banked.
If you look at Coins.ph as an example of a service powered by Blockchain technology, we serve as a low-cost, low-commitment gateway for these people who urgently need basic financial services and who could eventually become banking customers themselves. It only takes 30 seconds to create an account on your mobile phone, after which you could pay bills, top up your phone, and send funds to anyone, anywhere. We’re essentially extending the reach of financial institutions to a market they previously cannot serve through the cost and efficiency benefits provided by the Blockchain.
How has the FBI’s Silk Road debacle affected the prospects of Bitcoin?
The emergence of Bitcoin made possible the exchange of value between any two people on the planet without any intermediaries. Those who cared the most about user anonymity were unfortunately (and expectedly) the first ones to gravitate towards this use case. When you step back and look at the bigger picture however, you’ll see that Blockchain (Bitcoin) is no different from any other breakthroughs in history, in the sense that social deviants were the first to discover the use cases and regulations often had to catch up with the technology.
After the Silk Road debacle, the industry has taken great strides to focus on more common use cases and more strictly observe KYC (know-your-customer) and AML (anti-money-laundering) regulations. Silk Road was a rite of passage of sorts, a turning point that led to more mature and responsible use of the technology. It is only by serving customers responsibly and operating in line with local laws and regulations that Blockchain can truly move forward and reach its full potential.
Responses were edited for clarity. Thanks Scott, Luis and John for agreeing to my interviews!
There are a few more tech-related things I want to write about, so watch out!