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When Money Gets Stuck in Limbo (A Bitcoin Rant)

48 Hours to Transfer Money via Bitcoin

A few weeks ago we wrote about how blockchain technology and cryptocurrency can potentially help with the remittance problem here in the Philippines. While that’s definitely still possible with other cryptocurrencies, it won’t happen with Bitcoin. Fundamentally, Bitcoin is flawed to be considered “currency”.

As most of you know, I use Coins.ph as my Bitcoin wallet. Unfortunately, this wallet only supports Bitcoin and I wanted to invest more in other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum. To do this I needed to transfer some Bitcoin to a new wallet (Abra) that supports other cryptocurrencies. I transferred a considerable amount from my Bitcoin wallet to the new Abra wallet and this is where the nightmare began.

I had no idea how long and how expensive it would take to transfer money using Bitcoin between wallets.

First let’s start with the time it took. I waited for 48 hours before the money reflected in my new wallet. Yes you read that right. 2 whole days of not knowing or being assured with what happened with my cash. Bitcoin is so congested that it takes forever to move money around.

Next is the transaction fees. With Bitcoin they charged me over Php1,500 to transfer to another wallet. That’s more expensive than a lot of other remittance and digital wallet transfer services.

Lastly is the horrible user experience and interface. There was no easy and intuitive way to find out how long it will take before the money gets transferred.

I did a quick video about this entire experience which you can watch below.

Everything considered, it’s next to impossible to consider Bitcoin as “currency”. I agree with a lot of the pundits that it should be classified more of a “volatile digital asset” that definitely has a lot of upside but with considerable risk.

Other cryptocurrencies will most likely solve the remittance and money transfer problem. New companies and services like Salarium and Salpay are strong contenders especially for the PH setting.

Anyway, that’s it for this short rant! There’s definitely still a lot to learn about Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technology. This is going to be a fun ride.

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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7 Comments

  1. You said a few weeks back that you are new to this cryptocurrencies. And you were struck by the time it went to transfer and the cost that goes with it. Just treat them like your “tuition fees” on learning about cryptos. 🙂

    one more thing. Your posts will help a lot of pinoys who are also neophytes on this matter. You saved them their money. I know they are grateful for that.

    I dont want to jump into cryptocurrencies for some risks i dont like to take.

    Best of luck…

  2. Cryptocurrencies are a terrible idea in general. They are both currency and speculative commodity. Which means the value fluctuates a lot based on the whims of people. They have no basis on real world economic data like GDP, cash reserves (forex), or size of a country’s army. Going from $20k to $11k to $15k it is not a reliable basis for commercial transactions. It’s an unsustainable delusion.

    Enjoy your gambling and good luck.

  3. Dear Carlo,

    I sent you a private message via FB when you started to post about bitcoin. I did not agree with most of your arguments and I wish to give you a warning back then. But I guess you receive so many messages from your readers and my PM was lost.

    I will just try to discuss it here, hopefully it will reach you. The father of “value investing” is Benjamin Graham. And according to his book “The Intelligent Investor”, an investment operation should satisfy:

    1. Safety of principal – there should be minimal risk of loosing your capital
    2. Adequate return – don’t chase very high margins
    3. Thorough analysis – research heavily first before letting your capital go

    If any of the three is missing, then it is considered a speculation. There is nothing wrong with speculation, what is dangerous for me is to label something as an investment when it is actually a speculation. When I read your posts, your arguments violated #1 and #3. I think you mentioned that one should be ready to loose everything when investing in bitcoin. And you also mentioned that you want to learn by actually being involved with it. Have you done some research, everyone knows the going rate is 300-400 satoshi per txn and confirmation takes 2hrs upto few days.

    I am not ranting against you. I love you because your site adds so much value to our society. I learned a lot from you. I just want you to be careful.

    Anyways, I wish to add 2 things on this bitcoin arguments.
    1. People already know that bitcoin is no good for small payments transaction. The high cost (E.g. PHP 1,500) per txt is not good for transferring small amount. And since txn cost is pegged to XXX amount of satoshi, when Bitcoin price goes up, so does txn cost. If Bitcoin goes to USD 100k per coin, then txt cost will go to maybe something like PHP 8,000
    2. Bitcoin as currency is only suitable for large transactions, like buying a car or house. Or for payments for large business orders. But Kevin O’Leary ruled that out. Because of the extreme volatility, no one wants to do large transactions on Bitcoin without having some form of insurance.

    If Bitcoin can’t function as a currency… then it is just a security with no utility.

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