As part of the Digital Currency Council’s Continuing Education partnership with Inside Bitcoins, the DCC’s Director of Curriculum, Dan McArdle, has had the opportunity to interview the thought leaders that will be speaking at Inside Bitcoins Singapore on January 29-30. Today, we share insights from Luis Buenaventura, Head of Product for Satoshi Citadel Industries and Co-Founder of Rebit.ph.
Dan: Tell us a little about your background in Bitcoin and Digital Currencies, and how and why you got involved?
Luis: I’ve been a tech entrepreneur here in the Philippines for about 8 years now, and have founded a variety of startups — social networks, ecommerce platforms, marketplaces, webpage builders. Bitcoin is the first time I’ve felt that living and working in the Philippines wasn’t a distinct disadvantage in the highly competitive, western-centric startup world, because the technology allows us to attack problems that are specific (or at the very least, more pronounced) to us. Specifically, the Philippines is the third largest receiver of remittances in the world, and we’re in a great position to disrupt that market with Bitcoin.
That’s exactly what we do at SCI, attack the problems we see with potential solutions, see what works and in doing so, hopefully build the infrastructure for Bitcoin in the Philippines.
Dan: What excites you the most about the long-term prospects for Bitcoin?
Luis: The idea of being able to decentralise debt settlement is a powerful one. It allows companies to form ad hoc supply chains (or “service chains” the way we’re doing in our remittance business model) without a lot of banking or legal overhead.
Dan: What worries you the most about getting there? What is the biggest challenge to success?
Luis: Raising a meaningful amount of funding when you’re incorporated in a developing country is difficult. That’s always been hard though, and isn’t specific to Bitcoin necessarily.
Dan: What are some of the specific regulatory challenges facing remittance services? What do you see as the solution?
Luis: It’s the uncertainty around regulation that’s the biggest challenge. I don’t particularly relish the idea of operating a successful business outside of the confines of the law, so I’m hoping that when regulation does come, it’ll land on our side. Other stuff like handling KYC is just par for the course if you want to build a remittance business.
Dan: People often say that the Bitcoin ecosystem today is like the early internet. Do you think that’s a sensible analogy? If so, what stage would you say we’re in relative to development of the internet?
Luis: We often need to make broad statements like that in order to properly impress on people that bitcoin is A Big Deal. It’s useful mostly as a talking point but not as a metric by any means. I also don’t think it’s more accurate to simply say that Bitcoin is in the third stage of the technology hype cycle — the trough of disillusionment, as Gartner referred to it — because the only thing down about Bitcoin is its price. Everything else (investments, adoption, innovations) appears to be going up steadily. It’s likely that we can’t accurately compare this to anything else because no technology has ever had such a potentially profound impact on the way we use money.
Dan: How can we in the Digital Currency profession help Bitcoin adoption in general? How do we educate the public and communicate the benefits to potential new users?
Luis: I think we can help adoption by figuring out more practical applications for the technology, rather than espousing its virtues as the future of money. Show, don’t tell, so to speak.
Dan: Luis, thank you very much for your time, insight and support of the Digital Currency Council.