By Miguel Hanz L. Antivola, Reporter
MANY FILIPINOS have fallen victim to the fanfare of play-to-earn games enabled by cryptocurrency due to a lack of awareness, according to an expert.
Consumers must be informed and empowered to handle any financial asset responsibly, Jeanifer C. Bilango, the country manager of the local crypto brand Coins.ph, said in an interview with BusinessWorld.
“It has shown how Filipino consumers are ready from an educational and tech standpoint,” Ms. Bilango said regarding crypto adoption in the country.
“Filipinos are quite sophisticated enough to be onboarded into Web3 because in order for you to play Axie, you need to have a Web3 wallet,” she added.
Ms. Bilango noted that most failed to understand the speculative nature—the promise of profit—surrounding such an opportunity.
“It’s just economics—you have a limited supply, and if demand is not properly addressed or funneled properly, it will lead to prices going up,” she said. “That’s the biggest learning.”
Axie Infinity, a Vietnam-based online video game powered by non-fungible tokens (NFTs), took the Philippines by storm during the pandemic and saw 35% of its traffic in the country, according to its creator Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis.
Players can collect, trade, and play with virtual creatures called Axies, which are traded in the form of NFTs and used to sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The online video game had been losing about 50,000 players a month since January 2022, based on data from activeplayer.io, due to a supply-and-demand imbalance and volatile crypto assets, which Sky Mavis developers were trying to fix, BusinessWorld reported in March that year.
According to crypto insights company CoinGecko, the price of a single SLP token peaked at P19.97 on July 13, 2021. As of Friday, it is priced at P0.077954—barely a single Philippine peso.
“Most people ascribe crypto to scams because of the illegitimate players who affect the perspective of the space,” Ms. Bilango said regarding entities that are not bound to certain audits and regulations.
“There are ways in which we have to work on teaching people how to use crypto responsibly,” she added.
“We’re still early, but it takes time for legitimate projects to build on top of the blockchain, but we are very optimistic because we see adoption albeit small.”
Ms. Bilango said that the government has been open-minded about crypto adoption in the country.
“What they want at the end of the day is consumer protection, and what we want is to innovate. So where can we meet in the middle?” she said.
There are 20 virtual asset service provider (VASP)-licensed firms listed by the Philippine central bank, following the recent approval of UnionBank on Tuesday.
Ms. Bilango noted that the local crypto market is seeing opportunities in remittances and stablecoin, which aims to stabilize its market value as a cryptocurrency to another currency or commodity.