Logo of 'rebit.ph'

Remittances provider 'rebit.ph'

Miguel Cuneta is co-founder of 'Satoshi Citadel Industries', the parent company behind the remittance processor 'rebit.ph', the Bitcoin exchange 'buybitcoin.ph', Bitcoin merchant payment processor 'bitmarket.ph' and other Philippine- based Bitcoin projects. Bitmarket has enabled more than 250 merchants already.

Mr Cuneta, the remittance platform 'rebit.ph' transmits funds solely via Bitcoin. What advantages does this approach have compared to conventional methods?

Mr Cuneta: Rebit.ph uses Bitcoin purely as the value transfer mechanism to make international and domestic transfers without having to go through traditional channels. Users then receive the money in the Philippines in Pesos, either straight to their bank accounts or via cash pickup in thousands of locations all over the Philippines.

The receiver doesn't even know that Bitcoin was used, only the sender. In one case like our partnership with Bitspark.io in Hong Kong, the sender also doesnt know Bitcoin was used. This is our goal, which is to make Cash to Cash remittance corridors using Bitcoin as the rails for the transfer.

Why Bitcoin? It allows instant settlement between us and the sender. When we receive the Bitcoin, we are guaranteed that there will be no fraud or chargeback or any kind of problem in the future regarding the transfer, which allows us to pay out the cash equivalent immediately. For the senders, it is now possible to send as little as P1,000 ($22.00) from anywhere in the world to the Philippines, straight into someone's bank account or their hands, and pay only very minimal fees. Compared to conventional methods where sending $22.00 internationally is impractically expensive to the point that the fee could be bigger than the amount. Micro-remittances are now possible,and this solves a lot of other problems like misuse and misappropriation of funds.

How is 'rebit.ph' being accepted by the market?

Mr Cuneta: We are actually exceeding all the targets we set for ourselves, by far. The user base is growing steadily, and the volume of Bitcoin coming in has been growing quite faster. We are also actively seeking "on-ramp" partners in each major remittance corridor, and to our surprise, a lot of companies and individuals have reached out to us with the intention of partnering up with us as well.

Were there any effects you did not forsee?

Mr Cuneta: We did not foresee how fast we will grow and how fast we have to adjust to the roller coaster ride of the Bitcoin industry. So far we have handled it quite well and we are very proud too have accomplished what we have so far.

What is your prediction for working with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general?

Mr Cuneta: I believe that we are at a very early stage in terms of technology,  and that most of the things we are doing now in bitcoin will either become obsolete or unnecessary. I think Bitcoin is here to stay no matter what happens because you cannot really deny its utility in many different industries and applications. Bitcoin tech needs time to mature and for all those seeds of effort and investments to grow and bear fruit.

Bitcoin is still growing up, but when it does finally make it, it will change the way we do almost everything, the way we understand money, and the balance of power in commerce and finance. I believe Bitcoin will empower a lot of people worldwide and that's one of the reasons why we at SCI are doing this in the Philippines.  

Thank you for your insights!

Logo of 'BitcoinCommodities'

Bullion webshop 'BitcoinCommodities'

Dennis Daiber is the CEO of 'BitcoinCommodities', a bullion webshop based in Berlin with a yearly turnaround of multiple million USD equivalent. Mr Daiber is a professional stock trader since 2001 and a bullion vendor since 2011.

Mr Daiber, your bullion webshop 'BitcoinCommodities' accepts payments in Bitcoin. What were the reasons for this decision?

Mr Daiber: At first I simply wanted to give users who owned bitcoins an outlet - what good is a currency if you cannot shop with it? I was (and am) a fan of gold, and saw an opportunity.

How satisfied are you with the results?

Mr Daiber: What started with a little wordpress site became a full-fledged ecommerce shop, so I think I can be content for now. It seems that the goldbug/silverbug community and the bitcoin community have more common ground than either realize. This starts with a certain weariness of fiat currency and doesn't end with a destinctive liberal, sometimes libertarian stance.

Were there any effects you did not forsee?

Mr Daiber: In any business, you want to do well. While I didn't foresee the extent of that, I certainly welcomed success. What I certainly did not foresee - I do carry an enthusiastic approach - is the paperwork and tax framework you'll have to deal with once you're successful. In hindsight, had I actually known the troubles I would see with BaFin,
Finanzamt and Banks, I would probably have stayed in bed.

What is your prediction for working with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general?

Mr Daiber: It's always difficult to make predictions, especially with regards to crypto. I do hope that bitcoin makes a big splash, both in and off the streets.

Thank you for your insights!

Paragon Universal Trade Co logo

Bangkok based gemstone merchant 'Paragon Universal Trade Co'

David Fortier, a GIA graduate gemologist and seasoned gemstone merchant, is the owner of 'Paragon Universal Trade Co'. Located in Mahaesak Road in Bangkok, the center of colored gemstone trade, it has access to the finest gemstones with no middlemen in between.

Mr Fortier, as an American living in Thailand, married to a Filipino woman, you live an international lifestyle. What are your experiences regarding the traditional banking system?

Mr Fortier: My wife Melanie and I lead a global lifestyle. We live in Thailand because the gemstones are here, but we visit Melanie's family in the Philippines often, and sometimes we travel to the USA to see my family or to do business or both.
We both carry debit cards but have been caught up in various fraud alerts when our cards don't work. For some reason the global banking system can not imagine an American
living in Bangkok and vacationing in Cambodia. There is no scenario that our bank can imagine where our debit card isn't being used fraudulently.
We are polite and get in touch with our bank to let them know that yes, indeed, we did use our debit card in Thailand and Cambodia both yesterday.  LOL. Or we tried to...their fraud algorithms shut us down though. Again.
For some reason this "convenience" of the Mastercard debit is less than convenient for us. It's just bothersome to have to regularly ask my bank in Ohio if it's OK to spend our money.
We never have to be homeless though- Expedia takes bitcoin for room reservations.

You accept Bitcoin payments for your works and goods since 2011. How
does Bitcoin fit into your daily routine?

Mr Fortier: Because we not only sell gemstones but also make custom jewelry, we've found bitcoin to be an ideal global partner.  Typically when we make fine jewelry there are different stages of development.  We might find the main stone for a ring, and require payment once that is sourced.
Next is usually a CAD drawing and preparing an estimate for the total project cost, and again a payment.
Some clients send checks in the mail, some use bank wires, but bitcoiners are the easiest to settle up with.  Just a few clicks and the stone is paid for, or the initial payment for the jewelry is made.  We don't have to wait for a check to arrive and we don't need Mastercard or Visa's permission to continue. Bitcoin doesn't force us to ask questions
about the client's nationality or country of residence, it doesn't need the flashing lights and warnings of the global banks, bitcoin just lets us work.

How does Bitcoin compare to creditcards, still the dominant payment option in international trade?

Mr Fortier: Some people might ask "Wow, a client sends money to you in Thailand? Aren't they being brave?"  Of course Melanie and I know that we aren't crooks, so we don't worry about our end like the banks need to.
 But we do worry about our clients.  What if the client files a chargeback? What if Mastercard or Visa takes their side...after they have the gold, diamond, and ruby jewelry?  Bitcoin doesn't give us worries like that, and it let's us decide who to do business with.  Bitcoin doesn't offer assurances on either end...that is between us and our clients as it should be.  Bitcoin also doesn't charge for this "protection" like Mastercard or Visa.  That keeps costs low.

What is your prediction for working with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general?

Mr Fortier: Melanie and I deal with rare items that have true value; it feels logical to accept bitcoin for items that we sell for that reason.  There is a limited number of fine quality ruby and sapphire in the world, and a limited amount of gold and platinum...just like bitcoin.  I sometimes have clients who are surprised at the rise in value of stones over time, but many of these people are not considering how much money central banks have printed over the same period.  Sure, if you always denominate prices of precious gemstones in dollars, they will naturally rise over time as dollars and euros come off the printing presses.  Selling fine jewelry for bitcoin makes sense.
 I've been a proponent of bitcoin for a long time- to friends and family, and clients as well.  Bitcoin has the power to change our financial world in significant ways, and I see it as an essential tool for society to move forward.  It is very heartening to see all of the commitments to the bitcoin space from Wall Street and main street...significant personnel and capital are moving into cryptocurrencies and it is great fuel for growth and wider adoption.  Companies like Overstock are leading the way, but I think small merchants like us have a part to play as evangelists for real money and for the utility and transparency of blockchain technology.
 As we see traditional banks getting into the game and regulators and entrepreneurs engage in dialogue I see the real value of bitcoin shining through.  I remember in 2011 I was beside myself with excitement about bitcoin and told my dad all about my big plans.  "Son," he said, "nobody is going to pay you with bitcoin."  
 Of course in 2011 there was no robust market like now, liquidity was limited, and it was a hard sell.  Now that we have more and more exchanges including offerings like Coinbase that make accepting bitcoin virtually risk-free, and that even offer an internal "cold storage" option, bitcoin is becoming very easy to use.  I expect that to accelerate as merchants become more savvy about the advantages of bitcoin.

Thank you for your insights!

Map of 'Room77'

Restaurant 'Room77' in Berlin Graefekiez

Joerg Platzer is the owner of 'Room77', a restaurant in the popular Graefekiez district of Berlin. Accepting Bitcoin for payments since 2011 it was arguably the first bricks-and-mortar business worldwide to accept cryptocurrencies. Employees can choose to receive part of their salary in Bitcoin. 'Room77' is working to integrate Bitcoin into more and more of its business relationships.

Mr Platzer, in 2011 cryptocurrencies were in much less public focus and distribution than today. What was your initial motivation to accept Bitcoin payments in 'Room77'?

Mr Platzer: To be honest I just wanted to have some and it was easier to exchange dinners and drinks for Bitcoin than to mine them on my laptop. I wanted to have some though because I had what other people describe as 'the Bitcoin moment': the moment you realize that you are looking at an innovation with breathtaking implications and all you want is to have some of that stuff and be part of it.

How satisfied are you with the results?

Mr Platzer: More than happy. We can accept digital payments without paying half of our profit to the banks and we have zero chargebacks as you do with credit cards. Customers from other currency areas don't have to exchange money and pay high exchange fees, so they eat and drink at a huge discount at our place. So everybody's happy - well, except the banks. And at the same time we are taking part in one of the biggest changes in economics in human history. A change that is of benefit to every single individual on the planet and which is redistributing power and possibilities back to where they belong - to the people themselves, away from huge faceless corporate conglomerates.

What development can you observe in the four years 'Room77' is handling Bitcoin?

Mr Platzer: Increasing usage, increasing ease of use, increasing interest from all sides. Increase in all respects even though that is not being mirrored by the exchange rate at the moment, but that was also to be expected.

Were there any effects you did not forsee?

Mr Platzer: Yes, the speed of adoption. Do you remember the tiny handfull of people who showed up to the Bitcoin meetups in the early days? If anyone back then would have predicted that in a few years Dell, Expedia and Microsoft would accept Bitcoin everybody would have laughed at them, even you and me. The Bitcoin economy is growing at a speed that not even the biggest enthusiasts would have expected.

What is your prediction for working with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general?

Mr Platzer: I believe that cryptocurrencies and the underlying mechanisms of crypto economics are about to spread all around the globe. Looking at the speed of that development I should rather say 'observe' than 'believe' though. However, to me it looks like by the end of this decade nobody on the planet will have to use a a bank for anything anymore and that we will be interacting, trading and cooperating on a p2p (as in 'person to person') level in ways that we actually cannot really imagine yet. We can already gather though that this is of huge advantage for individuals as well as for society at large. Actually for me this development is the light at the end of the dark tunnel of our legacy financial and economic system.

Thank you for your insights!