Filipino Bitcoin startup Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI), has raised an additional US$100,000 as part of its ongoing seed funding round. Through this investment, serial entrepreneur Joe Maristela hopes to encourage other angel investors to consider putting money into the Philippines’ burgeoning tech industry.
Commenting on the new fundraising, John Bailon, CEO and co-founder at SCI, told Cointelegraph:
"It’s refreshing to have an investor like Mr. Maristela, who maintains a proactive involvement with us and shares our passion for Bitcoin and what it can do for the Philippines. His investment helps us reach our goal of empowering and financially including every Filipino."
SCI, one of the largest Bitcoin ventures in Southeast Asia and an umbrella company of seven Filipino startups, has grown at a fast pace since its inception in early 2014, expending its team from four co-founders to more than 20 employees in 10 months.
The startup recently acquired the Philippines' first Bitcoin exchange, Buybitcoin.ph, with a focus on "[establishing] a presence in all stages of consumer involvement."
According to Maristela, SCI's rapid growth is "a sign of how [the Filipino tech scene] can spring up entirely new industries." Maristela said in a release:
"The Philippines is at a turning point. We must stop thinking about how we can grow our current industries and begin to think about which new ones we can create. Philippine tech is the path to this future, and investors must pave the way."
While investments into Bitcoin and blockchain startups may seem like a risky stand, Maristela believes that the technology has the potential for a wider social impact and could significantly help "improving the lives of Filipinos."
"If you’re going to evaluate Philippine tech based purely on numbers, there will be many other industries that will likely yield a much higher return on investment," Maristela said. "But if you're talking about potential impact on the country, about changing the status quo and improving the lives of Filipinos, there is no greater opportunity."
According to BusinessWorld Online, more than two-thirds of adults in the Philippines remain unbanked, a number that SCI's Bailon would like to see shrink, he told Cointelegraph in a previous interview.
Through Bitcoin, SCI is looking to provide financial services that are faster, cost-effective, and thus more accessible to the masses.
As of today, the umbrella company owns seven Bitcoin-centric products, including the country's first Bitcoin bills payment system, Bills Ninja. However, Bailon noted that his company's flagship product is their “rebittance” service, Rebit.ph.
The relative popularity of Rebit.ph comes as little surprise, considering that the Philippines currently ranks as one the top five remittance recipient countries, according to a report from the World Bank. In 2014, Filipinos received a total of US$28 billion in remittances.
However, the organization noted that remittance growth is expected to slow sharply in 2015, notably due to weak economic growth in Europe and the deterioration of the Russian economy.
But according to Dilip Ratha, Lead Economist, Migration and Remittances, at the World Bank’s Development Prospects Group and Head of the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), "innovative financing" can help reverse the trend.
"The moderation in the growth of remittances will be hard on many poor people. The affected countries may have to consider creative ways of smoothing the shock. Fortunately, migration and remittances can be leveraged for innovative financing."
Editor's note: The original version of this article referred Coinage.ph as one of SCI's verticals. Coinage is not connected with SCI. SCI is not a shareholder of the company.