We announced at the Miami Bitcoin Conference on Sunday, January 18th, the launch of third and latest product, International Payroll for the Individual. International Payroll for the Individual allows employees to receive wages internationally in local currency, from any US employer. It makes this possible without requiring the individual to possess a bank account, without requiring the employer to willfully participate.
With the initial iteration of this launch comes the first transparent fiat to fiat solution to provide international payrolls and payments from the US to the Philippines by leveraging the bitcoin protocol. We have integrated with our partner exchanges in the Philippines (Coins.ph) to offer the lowest prices while providing the highest number of payout options, including Bank transfers, Cash Cards, Cash Pickup, Mobile Money, Door-to-Door delivery and, of course, Bitcoin.
Coins.ph is one of the Philippines’ leading Bitcoin wallet and exchange. Coins.ph enables anyone, including those who do not have access to credit cards or bank accounts, to easily send money to the Philippines, top up their phone, and shop at 63,000+ global merchants using digital currency. Coins’ mission is to increase financial inclusion in Southeast Asia by delivering financial services over mobile phones. Founded in 2013 by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Ron Hose and Runar Petursson, the company operates in the Philippines and Thailand and is quickly expanding throughout SouthEast Asia.
Breaking Down Borders and Developing a Global Workforce
It has become a cliché to say the world has been “globalized” or that “individuals can now participate in a ‘truly global economy’”; many like to repeat this statement as mantra, hoping that by repeating it…it becomes true.
In fact, for most of the modern era, individuals have been living in the shadows of the “modern financial system”, disconnected, and un-enfranchised, waiting for the world to bring to fruition the promises that “globalization” brought with it when the word entered our lexicon about 30-years ago. We dare say it is even hyperbolic to say that the world was connected and globalized even 10-years ago because we did not have a global currency.
We now have a truly “global currency” where just a few short years ago we did not. Today it is not exaggeration to say that we as a global society are on the cusp of fulfilling the promises the “concept of globalization” dangled in front of us 20-years ago.
Paramount to our vision at Bitwage is a firm belief in the ability for Bitcoin to break down borders, allowing anyone around the world to take place in the globalized workforce.
The belief in creating a globalized workforce is not new. We are not alone on this endeavor.
In the past, many fortune 500 companies had looked into leveraging skilled talent and cheap labor around the world, however the cultural differences and management issues regarding international workers left many of these enterprises wanting. In order to promote the use of global workforces, Accenture, now a $27 billion management consulting, technology services and outsourcing giant, developed a way that allows employees around the world, especially in India and the Philippines, to engage with fortune 500 companies. Accenture provided the international talent management, HR policies and leadership development required for these large corporations to hire and maintain an international environment. Now, with these experiences, workers around the world are given the opportunity to learn important and applicable business skills, make a high quality living and climb the ranks of society.
While companies like Accenture may have helped to develop large international outsourcing organizations in specific countries, many people from countries without a large outsourcing industry had no means to reap the benefits of a world economy. In order for individuals looking to engage in contractor jobs, they would have to individually reach out to companies in the US and Europe by phone or email to describe their service to people in the wrong departments in a language the contractor could barely speak. Elance and Odesk, two of the world’s leading online marketplaces for contractors, set out to solve this issue by creating a solution that brings contractors and interested employers together with the click of a button. The company now has over 8 million contractors from over 180 countries to engage in the global workforce. People from all over the world now have the opportunity to easily find a job to keep the food on the table.
While these advancements have created an environment that makes it easy and cost efficient for workers to find a job, we saw that there still remains challenges in international payments.
To give a concrete, real-world example, we would like to tell the story of Pedro, someone we have had the pleasure to work with and help.
“I’m a software developer in Argentina working ! for American clients. Heavy government ! restrictions here mean I cannot receive payment ! through traditional methods without my paycheck ! taking a substantial hit.”
The government restrictions Pedro is referring to are the Argentine government’s capital controls, implemented by the Banco Central de la Republica, protecting the Argentinian exchange rate and blocking the Argentine people’s access to freely engage in currency conversion. After having the value of the Argentinian Peso reduced to almost nothing twice in the past 20 years, many Argentinians have lost faith in their currency. In order to preserve the strength of the Argentinian peso, the government has pegged the value to the US dollar and limited people’s access to converting from Argentinean Peso to USD. The result was the creation of a non-official exchange rate, called the “Blue Rate”, which is used by most Argentinians and is even updated daily in local newspapers. Earlier last, while the official government rate was 8.60 ARS to the dollar, the blue rate was 13.77 ARS to the dollar. Unfortunately, when you send money through the banking system or western union to workers in Argentina, the dollars are converted into pesos at the official government rate. So if you were to send 1000 USD through a wire transfer to a contractor in Argentina, the Argentinian bank would then give 8600 to the receiving Argentinean, which is actually only worth 624 USD. This is over a 35% cut to a payment.
“Bitcoin is the clear solution, but my clients aren’t always comfortable dealing with it directly.“
While Bitcoin offered Pedro a channel to avoid the 35% cut to his payment, his clients were not very open to the idea. Now this is not abnormal. Though many companies that accept Bitcoin are not opposed to offering Bitcoin payroll, the majority of employers who have heard of Bitcoin only know the negative headlines: Mt. Gox, Silk Road, Bitcoin is dead. With such negative press, many companies tend to take more of a “wait and see” approach. In addition, when larger employers only have one or two employees asking for Bitcoin Payroll, these companies would rather utilize their resources elsewhere instead of on a costly implementation for a benefit only two employees want
“Bitwage’s Payroll Individual has helped me bridge that gap, allowing my clients to pay through familiar means while I receive bitcoins on the other end. Not only that, but the payment processing time has been cut by at least half. My experience with Bitwage has been nothing short of excellent so far and I’ll be recommending it to others in my situation.”
Unfortunately, stories such as Pedro’s are typical and speaks to a larger, societal problem. His story and others like his are what at once strengthened our belief in bitcoins ability to break down borders and simultaneously inspired in us a strong desire to make it more accessible. This impetus to create a solution that would allow anyone around the world to finally participate in a globalized workforce, provided the inspiration behind our third and most recent product.
International Payroll for the Individual
It is with great pleasure that we can announce the launch of International Payroll for the Individual. International Payroll for the Individual allows employees to receive wages internationally in local currency, from any US employer. It makes this possible without requiring the individual to possess a bank account, without requiring the !employer to willfully participate.
With the initial iteration of this launch comes the first transparent fiat to fiat solution to provide international payrolls and payments from the US to the Philippines by leveraging the bitcoin protocol. By using the bitcoin protocol, we are able to provide a faster, lower cost, and more efficient means for companies to send payments and employees to obtain payments, without the need for the recipient to have a bank account.
As one of the top 4 countries receiving remittances and one of the top 5 countries receiving outsourced payments, including a $25 Billion Business Processing Outsourcing industry, the Philippines was a natural fit for our initial launch.
We have integrated with our partner exchanges in the Philippines (Coins.ph) to offer the lowest prices while providing the highest number of payout options, including Bank transfers, Cash Cards, Cash Pickup, Mobile Money, Door-to-Door delivery and, of course, Bitcoin.!
“There are estimated one million filipino professionals working for overseas companies via services like Elance and Odesk. On average, companies using traditional options pay $80 in fees for every $1000 remitted to the Philippines” said Ron Hose, CEO of coins.ph, and added, “In addition to offering individuals a more convenient and low cost method of receiving payments, together with Bitwage, we are offering companies a cheaper, more convenient way to send funds to employees in the Philippines. Our cash-to-cash delivery is powered by the bitcoin network, but leverages our network of payout options spanning 24 banks, 500 retail cash pick- up locations, and 450 24/7 ATMs to deliver cash to employees”.
We are continuing the work that Accenture, Elance and Odesk have started, by further enabling workers to join a truly the global economy. When previously people were unable to receive paychecks efficiently without a bank account, Bitwage is now providing a solution that enables anyone in the Philippines to receive payments for international jobs regardless of their financial situation as unbanked or underbanked.
Our goal at Bitwage is to continue expanding our International Payroll service in the 2015 to enable more currency inputs and outputs while continuing to improve the features of our flagship BP(i) platform.
Jonathan Chester, Founder and CSO
Bitwage: Your Wage, Bit by Bit