John Bailon is Co-Founder and CEO/CTO at Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI), a Filipino Bitcoin startup aiming to improve the lives of Filipinos with smart and innovative products related to Bitcoin.
As of today, the ventures company offers as much as 7 Bitcoin centered products, including the country's first Bitcoin bills payment system Bills Ninja, the Philippines' premier 'rebittance' service Rebit.ph, and recently launched the country's first order book exchange, Coinage.
In an interview with Cointelegraph, Bailon talks about the Filipino market, the local Bitcoin community and his ambitions for his company.
Cointelegraph: Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI) is going big when it comes to building the "Bitcoin ecosystem for the Filipino market." You guys offer 7 different Bitcoin products, or Satoshi Citadel Industries 'verticals' as mentioned in your website. Could you tell us more about SCI and the story behind your startup?
John Bailon: SCI started with the co-founders having the goal of widening the reach of Filipino craftsmen by enabling them to enter the e-commerce arena via Bitcoin. It was very simple, but as we started building the system, we saw other opportunities for Bitcoin to come in as a solution for our country so the rest of the verticals were developed. Kudos to our team for bringing in great ideas and even better expert skills in bringing those ideas to reality.
“We are a country of separated families. That’s what motivates us at SCI. We see how Bitcoin can improve the lives of these separated families.”
- John Bailon
CT: What are the incentives and motivations of SCI?
JB: 1 out of 10 Filipinos work outside their motherland. You would be hard-pressed to find a Filipino who isn’t related to a migrant worker. We are a country of separated families. That’s what motivates us at SCI. We see how Bitcoin can improve the lives of these separated families.
CT: A lot has been said about emerging markets, and business opportunities for Bitcoin startups, notably regarding the remittance market. Where else do you think these opportunities lay for Bitcoin startups in the Philippines, and in Southeast Asia?
JB: In the Philippines, only 5% have credit cards, and that percentage drops further if you look at the entire Southeast Asia. That’s not to say that we want people to have the ability to purchase on credit. In fact, credit cards, or generally, access to electronic cash, allow a person to participate in the $1T e-commerce industry annually. Bitcoin has all the makings of a winning mobile money solution.
CT: Which of SCI's products are the most successful?
JB: Our 'rebittance' service product Rebit.ph, simply because it taps into a huge market.
CT: How is the ATM doing so far?
JB: It’s doing great! Although our ATM isn’t really an ATM, per se, the machine does its job well in that it teaches people about Bitcoin in an experiential way.
CT: SCI is said to build Bitcoin products for local Filipinos. Would you say you've achieved this goal?
JB: Yes. Most of our clients are either Filipinos or foreigners sending money to Filipinos.
CT: Could you tell us more about the local Bitcoin community?
JB: It’s a surprisingly diverse community. Small, but growing rapidly. We have a lot of passionate believers of Bitcoin and discussions can sometimes get very heated. In my opinion, the community is more than capable of bringing the technology into the mainstream.
“Aside from a caveat emptor type of memorandum, our central bank does not have any decision on Bitcoin whatsoever.”
- John Bailon
CT: What is the position of the Filipino government on digital currencies? Did you face any regulatory difficulty when creating SCI?
JB: No difficulty whatsoever. As of the moment, Bitcoin is not regulated by our government. Aside from a caveat emptor type of memorandum, our central bank does not have any decision on Bitcoin whatsoever.
One thing that is of note though, is that our congress recently published a bill that proposes to create an electronic version of the Filipino Pesos. In the bill, they mention Bitcoin as one of the possible underlying technologies to run the proposed system. We see this as a positive sign that our lawmakers are open to using innovative technology in improving the country.
CT: Have you received VC investments for SCI? If not, are you seeking seed funding?
JB: We are currently self-funded but we do intend to open seed funding very soon.
CT: What is coming next for SCI? Will you be expanding your product range, let's say, to mining services?
JB: We won’t go into mining; electricity is too expensive in the Philippines. We are a 7,107 island archipelago after all. Our short-term goals are mostly to improve on our existing services. We do, however have something coming up very soon.
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