Asia is home to more than 4 billion people. Roughly 2 of every 3 people on the planet call the continent home. In order to deal with that kind of population density, Asian nations increasingly look to cutting edge technology to solve social, logistical, and financial issues. It should come as no surprise then, that cryptocurrency and blockchain related businesses are fast becoming mainstream, both in emerging economies and the traditional heavy hitters.
Let’s take a look at three Bitcoin related startups that are poised to make a huge impact, both in their home countries and the world at large.
First on the list is the Philippine startup coins.ph. Veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ron Hose co-founded coins.ph in 2014 with the goal of serving the chronically underbanked population in the Philippines. Due to the small transaction amounts common in emerging markets traditional banking options are not financially feasible. Coins.ph aims to fill the gap by providing users of their mobile wallet with remittance and ATM services using bitcoin as the exchange medium.
They also intend to make the online economy more accessible for the roughly 95% of Philippine residents without a credit or debit card. Through their mobile app and merchant services any user or business can act as a 2-way atm. Users simply look up the nearest location with either cash or bitcoin on hand and make the transaction in person instantly. Then remitting money or making online purchases is only a few simple steps away.
Next up on this tour of the Asian cryptocurrency world is Bifubao.com. This Chinese startup, co-founded by American tech lawyer Jack Wang and Li Xiao Lai, may have found the solution to one of the crypto-economy’s biggest challenges. Trust. Since the high profile Mt. Gox debacle, many people have been hesitant to trust any company with holding the large amounts the digital currency necessary to operate things like a real-time exchange. The problem lies in being able to verify that the coins users deposit are actually being retained.
The Bifubao team have implemented a proof-of-trust system which allows users to confirm the company’s reserve of Bitcoin, while also being able to keep the coins safely in offline storage. This is accomplished by using a system known as the Merkle Tree. This is basically a smaller version of bitcoin’s block chain which verifies all transactions within the company. The advantage to this approach over simply publishing a full hash tree is the ability to confirm the reserves exist without having to expose the entire ledger to the public. If their system works out as planned it could be a huge step toward legitimacy for bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general.
Last, but by no means least is the Korean company Coinplug. After raising $3.3 million USD in funding by the end of 2014, Coinplug made headlines partnering with Nautilus Hyosung to bring Bitcoin ATMs to Seoul. Now in 2015 they have picked up two new partners in making BTC available to the masses. Coinplug and 7/11 have made it possible for consumers to purchase BTC at the register of any the convenience store’s locations in Korea. They have plans to offer prepaid BTC cards for sale in the near future. Visa is also on board to offer a BTC backed Coinplug debit card which allows users to purchase goods and services anywhere Visa is accepted.
These three startups each have their own unique way through which they can help the residents of their respective countries. Their innovations may end up having effects that reach beyond borders and affecting the way we do banking and finance on a global scale.