Philippine bitcoin exchange and remittance service Coins.ph has added an 'instant remittance' service to its list of options, allowing recipients to withdraw sent funds directly from a bank ATM.
Using the company's mobile app, customers anywhere in the world can deposit cash via a bitcoin ATM and have a friend or relative collect it instantly from a bank machine. Money can also be sent directly from bitcoin balances in Coins.ph web wallets.
To make this possible, Coins.ph has integrated with the eGiveCash service operated by the Philippines' Security Bank. Anyone receiving money via this service can withdraw cash from one of bank's network of 450 ATMs countrywide, without the need for an ATM card or a bank account.
Coins.ph CEO Ron Hose told CoinDesk he believes the service is the first of its kind in the world, and testing it against traditional remittance providers with a $50 remittance resulted in 50% savings on overall costs.
The company is working to extend its ATM pay-out network, Hose added, although that could still take a while to complete.
"The process is tedious, since there is no single counter-party (other ATM networks only cover card-based transactions). Each integration can take upwards of six months, and there are various technical and other requirements that need to be addressed. That said, the benefits to the customers are clear and we are dedicated to pushing this forward."
The new direct-to-ATM service is available 24/7 and is fee-free for Coins.ph wallet users.
How it works
To use the service from a Coins.ph wallet, customers select 'ATM Pickup/eGive Cash' under the 'Where should we send the money?' option when using the wallet's remittance function.
The recipient will then receive a message with a 16-digit reference number via SMS. A four-digit passcode is sent separately to the sender via email, to pass on to the recipient.
Next, they must simply press 'Enter' and 'eGive Cash' on any participating ATM, followed by the reference number, passcode and exact amount of the remittance.
Coins.ph requires a Level 2-validated account to send money via eGive Cash. Under know-your-customer and anti-money laundering (KYC/AML) rules this means email and ID verification must be carried out, but address or phone number are not required.
Any amount, from 500 Philippine pesos (PHP ) to 10,000 PHP ($11.20–$223.80 at press time), can be sent per day, or up to 100,000 PHP ($2,235) per month. To put that into perspective, the average monthly salary in the Philippines is around $280.
The personal savings rate in the Philippines, Hose said, is one of the lowest in the world. This means that in the event of an emergency, like 2013's earthquake and typhoon disasters, getting cash into local relatives' hands quickly becomes vital.
Coins.ph's own customer research suggests that emergencies, both widespread or personal like family medical crises or large bills, are one of the chief reasons for overseas workers using the service to send money home, Hose said.
Other than bank ATMs, Coins.ph has a network of over 5,000 existing cash pickup locations. Remitters can also send money to any branch of 24 different banks for free or have it delivered door-to-door for a fee. An additional option is the ability to add the funds to a cash card or cellphone account.
Southeast Asian focus
Filipinos working overseas send over $24bn home each year, paying an average 8% to middlemen. Coins.ph, along with its local competitor Rebit.ph, have worked to employ bitcoin's virtually cost-free international value-transfer network to lower these costs and make the process more efficient.
"Our priority has always been about offering convenience and equal opportunity. We believe that everyone deserves access to financial services and should have the option to use their money to their desire, without having to endure high fees and prerequisites."
Hose founded Coins.ph in the Philippines with fellow Silicon Valley entrepreneur Runar Petursson in 2013. On a stated mission to increase financial inclusion in the Southeast Asian region, the company has also more recently opened a second operation in Thailand called Coins.co.th.
Philippines pesos image via Shutterstock