Pouch.ph, a bitcoin payment firm launched in 2021, has announced that it is enabling over 400 small businesses to accept and process Bitcoin payments in the Philippines. According to a press release shared with Bitcoin Magazine, the platform aims to tap into the vast pool of merchants in the country, ranging from mom-and-pop stores to boutique hotels.

Pouch.ph utilizes the Lightning Network built on top of Bitcoin to facilitate faster, more affordable and user-friendly digital payments. With this payment protocol, customers can pay by scanning a merchant’s QR code with any Bitcoin wallet, and Pouch.ph converts the bitcoin to pesos, transferring the funds directly to the merchant’s bank or mobile money account.

According to Ethan Rose, CEO of Pouch.ph, one of the significant challenges faced by small businesses is the limited availability of payment methods, with credit cards charging fees of up to three percent. With the increasing number of internet and smartphone users in the Philippines, accepting bitcoin as a payment method opens up opportunities for those without credit cards or local fiat currency to make online or in-store purchases.

Some local businesses in Boracay, a popular tourist destination, have already embraced bitcoin payments through Pouch.ph. In the press release, Erielyn Gaston, owner of Kasbar restaurant, highlighted the advantages of accepting Bitcoin, stating that it has allowed her to attract a wider customer base and increase sales. Meanwhile, TIB Market manager Marcel Selfer praised the convenience of a fast and easily available payment service, noting that it provides an alternative to high fees charged by non-bank ATMs for credit card users.

Expanding its services beyond Boracay, Pouch.ph noted that it has successfully onboarded merchants in cities such as Cebu City, Dumaguete, Iloilo and Bacolod City. Additionally, in Metro Manila, establishments like URBN QC, Draper Startup House and KosneyLand have started accepting bitcoin payments through Pouch.ph. The company also offers a Batch Pay feature, enabling business owners to send payments instantly to employees, suppliers and other recipients, simplifying payment processes.

To facilitate bitcoin transactions, individuals can utilize BTCMap.org to locate merchants that accept Bitcoin payments. Pouch.ph plans to extend its Batch Pay services for over-the-counter remittances through LBC, M Lhuillier and Palawan Pawnshop. By embracing bitcoin, small businesses in the Philippines are capitalizing on the increasing number of internet and smartphone users, while offering customers more diverse and convenient payment options.

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