By Zac Cheah, Co-founder & CEO of Pundi X |Obtaining Cryptocurrency Should Be As Easy As Buying Bottled Water
Bitcoin, or cryptocurrency, is a security to some, while it's a utility to others. Essentially, crypto can have different roles depending on how they’re utilized. To the general trading public, it tends to be more of a commodity, which goes up in price upon the changing of hands. So that is one. Simultaneously, a lot of crypto people see it as a utility, because we want to utilize it beyond trading, where a token is useful in a broader sense. Simply put, each token has its own unique definition.
Our PXS token aims at enabling crypto’s active and extensive usage within the ecosystem. We try to make it as utile as possible. Using our POS device, Merchants receive a 1% return from each sale they make in either US dollars or our own token. I believe that the bigger play for cryptocurrency, whatever the token, is to be able to use them in real-life situations. That is the attractive part, because you can only trade so much until you move into the actual utility realm.
Why It’s Difficult To Acquire Crypto
It seems as if a lot of people own Bitcoin. But if you look at it from a global perspective, the percentage of ownership is actually very small, it’s just 0.1% of the global population. One of the reasons is because buying Bitcoins online is extremely difficult. It’s like launching a nuclear war, according to our CTO Pitt Huang.
Fundamentally, there are 25 key phrases you need to remember, which is a lot and extremely complicated. I think for Bitcoin to move beyond the current scope, it has to be simplified so that it can popularize among regular people. It has to be as easy as buying bottled water from a convenience store.
Another reason will have to do with government intervention. For example, when the Korean government banned Bitcoin, naturally, the public would have suspicion towards Bitcoin. The government really has to step up and let people know the guidelines to ICO and buying cryptocurrency, because these days there are so many ICOs, like a couple of hundred of them without any clear guidelines regulating them. Everyone is starting from scratch, whether it’s the government, the trader, or someone who’s buying Bitcoin for the first time. It’s sort of like a revolution where people are scrambling to understand, so it’s really important to demystify Bitcoin purchase.
The Next Five Years
Digital currency will coexist with the existing legal tender and banking system. While digital currency will grow by a lot, I wouldn't say that it will replace fiat money. Take China, for example, which started from being a developing market to a world leader in FinTech. In China, almost 50% of daily transactions are carried out through apps like AliPay and WeChat Pay.
Blockchain then becomes a natural extension. Since we are leading the Indonesian offline payment system, we are a little bit like Alipay Indonesia. So the first thing we have on the plate right now is to educate Indonesians to use digital currencies instead of cash. The first leapfrog will be the whole new user experience, while the blockchain will be the second leapfrog.
Essentially, blockchain allows people to transfer money on a system that is so advanced that it is immutable. This means that everything recorded is final and open to public scrutiny. It’s a little like when people finally hosted their own website for the first time in the ’90s, figuring out this curving Internet.
Jakarta Versus Shenzhen
People in China are very open to new financial services. In China, they don’t even accept cash at certain convenience stores. You can pay only with AliPay and WeChat Pay. From this, we can see that people in China are very adaptable to changes.
In Indonesia it’s a slightly different matter, because only 30% of the population has bank accounts, and less than 10% are credit-card holders. Meanwhile, there are more than 200 banks in Indonesia, which means there is a huge potential for us in terms of addressing the unbankable market. I would say Indonesia holds huge potentials not only for blockchains, but also for startups and entrepreneurship.
Getting Indonesians To Use Crypto
Indonesians normally have two things in their pockets: their mobile phone and cash. These are the two things that they are always carrying, and you’ve just got to think about how to combine these two into one. In Indonesia, we’ve launched a digital wallet called Pundi Pundi. It’s like an upgraded version of AliPay comprising an array of services, such as paying and receiving vouchers through scanning QR codes.
There is also a credit system with which you can borrow up to US$70 every month and spend it on our partner merchants. After all, Indonesia has a very bad credit-rating system in a way, where banks do not share information with one another. Crypto is, therefore, a very interesting option that will intrigue many Indonesians.
The Best Crypto
Bitcoin is very stable – it’s the king. As we hit 1 million users, people are increasingly convinced to contribute 1% of their investment portfolio to cryptocurrency. And Bitcoin, being the king, will take up a large percentage.
The second one is obviously Ethereum. It’s the most interesting coin so far, as a lot of tokens are actually built on top of Ethereum, just like a central bank where you store different currencies. As long as you get more coins, Ethereum is positioned to grow extremely strong.
Lastly, our own coin PSX has a strong use case. There are so many white paper ICOs out there that promise to deliver within a year. The difference with ours lies where we are actually trying to solve the real-case issue, making crypto available to more regular people.
Indonesia’s Government And Pundi’s Goals
A lot of governments around the world are becoming increasingly worried about crypto. The Indonesian government has two positions. One, they do not acknowledge Bitcoin as a legal tender, just like how they do not acknowledge US dollars in their country. In other words, everything has to be listed in Indonesian rupiah.
Two, the Indonesian government acknowledges Bitcoin as a virtual item, which I believe is a very good start. People can legitimately buy and sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Indonesia as long as the prices aren’t marked in cryptocurrency. Japan and Korea, especially the former, is very supportive of crypto. As such, we will roll out our device in said cities pretty aggressively.
Asia Pacific, especially regions spanning from GMT+7 to GMT+9, is pioneering in the adoption of Bitcoin and blockchain activity, which is why some people say that if you want to buy Bitcoins, buy them when the Asians are asleep. www.pundix.com
About The Author Pundi X Co-founder and CEO Zi Bin (Zac) Cheah is the former founding chair of W3C HTML5 Interest Group. In 2016, he stepped down as Founder and CEO of Wozlla to participate in Southeast Asia’s FinTech and blockchain revolution. The Beijing-based cross-platform HTML5 gaming producer and distributor raised US$2 million at one point as part of its expansion endeavours.