Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Bitcoin Island Retreat in Boracay Signals Strong Outlook for Cryptocurrency and Lightning Network

Bitcoin has recently demonstrated its resilience by posting its third consecutive month of positive gains amid the ongoing US banking crisis and regulatory scrutiny. This positive streak for Bitcoin has been interpreted as a strong indication of the cryptocurrency's future potential, as highlighted during the first Bitcoin Island Retreat held on Boracay Island from March 27 to 29, 2023, where venture capitalists and government leaders gathered to discuss Bitcoin's potential.

According to Augie Ilag, a venture partner at HodlCo and former Sequoia Capital crypto investor, Boracay Island has the potential to revolutionize the remittance market through the use of the Bitcoin Lightning Network. As a popular tourist destination that requires a significant currency conversion, Boracay could become a Bitcoin paradise and a model for other tourist destinations to follow.

Bitcoin payments firm Pouch.ph has played a key role in the growing adoption and innovation of Bitcoin in Boracay since mid-2022, with more than 250 locations now accepting bitcoin as payment. Using the Bitcoin Lightning Network, Pouch.ph has made sending money to the Philippines faster, cheaper, and more accessible for people around the world, particularly in a remittance market where traditional offline channels like Western Union often charge predatory rates of up to 7%, making it difficult for people to send money back home.

Ilag also believes that lightning payments such as those offered by Pouch.ph provide a unique solution to the problem of remittances, especially for foreigners who come to Boracay and need to convert their home currency into domestic currency but do not have access to local e-money providers like GCash and Paymaya.

Panelists at the Bitcoin Island Retreat, including Jack Lee of HCM Capital, Louis Liu of Mimesis Capital, and Mike Jarmuz of Lightning Ventures, also expressed their bullish stance towards Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. Liu noted that Bitcoin's infrastructure has significantly evolved since the 2008 crisis, with new exchanges and applications being built, making it a potential hedge amid current global financial challenges. Lee and Jarmuz advised attendees to focus on learning about Bitcoin and expressed confidence in supporting early-stage founders and entrepreneurs in the Philippines’ Bitcoin space.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay also echoed the bullish sentiment towards Bitcoin during a separate panel discussion, stating that he is very bullish about Bitcoin and believes it is the real money of the 21st century. As a dean at Siliman University, he aims to make Bitcoin a global subject and hopes that Silliman will become a Bitcoin-friendly university, with other universities around the world following suit.

The Bitcoin Island Retreat was organized by Pouch.ph, together with crypto exchange and mobile wallet Coins.ph and edutech platform Bitskwela. Attendees at the retreat experienced living off of Bitcoin and learned about the power of instant payment through the Lightning Network. During the conference, Pouch.ph also announced its partnership with ZEBEDEE, a global next-generation payments processor, for a wider borderless transaction. This partnership allows users around the globe to send and receive funds from any other Lightning wallet or service, increasing financial inclusion in the Philippines.

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