The Philippines is traditionally a cash-based country, however, tech-savvy Filipinos are quickly adopting the use of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency. In fact, Binance’s Changpeng Zhao has described the Philippines as “one of the most active crypto communities in Asia”.
Thousands of pawnshops and 7/11s are now enabling cash deposits and withdrawals to and from verified exchanges such as Abra. Allowing for more convenient payments without having to open a bank account.
One of the reasons for Filipinos embracing digital currencies is the ease of use but also due to the general low income in the region. A number of banks in the Philippines require monthly deposits to open an account. However, most salaries are cash in hand and are not enough to meet these requirements.
Crypto is also popular amongst Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who currently make up 10% of the Phillippines GDP. Often OFWs will send remittance back to their families. Usually this would incur high transaction and transfer fees from banks or the likes of Western Union. However, by using cryptocurrencies can reduce these fees to a few cents.
There are currently 17 licensed exchanges that can be used in the Philippines. All have different features, fees, transaction methods and verification processes.
Binance’s Changpeng Zhao describes the Philippines as “one of the most active crypto communities in Asia” and it’s the perfect way to sum up the country’s blend of high adoption amid relatively low affluence.
How to Buy Bitcoin in the Philippines?
If you are living in the Philippines or an OFW and are interested in joining the Bitcoin revolution yourself. I have put together some of the most popular and trusted cryptocurrency exchanges below. Depending on your location some of these exchanges may have sign-up restrictions.
First up we have one of the most crypto popular platforms to buy Bitcoin in the Philippines Coins.ph. Coins.ph is a SE Asian fintech, trusted by over 10 million Filipinos. It is the first virtual currency provider in the Philippines to be licensed by the BSP.
Plus it is also the first-ever blockchain-based company in Asia to hold both Virtual Currency and Electronic Money Issuer licenses from a central bank.
Around 60% of Filipinos in 2021 still do not have access to a bank account. The mission of Coins.ph is to enable anyone (including those without a bank account), to easily access financial services directly from their phone, including the trading of cryptocurrency.
With this exchange, you are able to buy BTC, ETH, BCH, and XRP with or without a bank account. You can cash in using either your bank account, Gcash, Paymaya.
Alternatively, you can use a payment centre, with cash, at places like 7 Eleven or Western Union. Once you have cashed in, you can easily convert your PHP to Bitcoin. Simply type in the PHP you want to spend and confirm by swiping if you are happy with the conversion rate.
Fees for cashing in will be charged depending on your chosen payment method. 7-Eleven, Cebuana, M Lhuillier or GCash for no fees, or UnionBank for a fee rebate whereas with Paymaya there will be a small fee of around 12 PHP for cash-ins.
Again, depending on your service, this will be similar to cashing out. Bitcoin transfer fees will be dependent on how busy the network is.
All current fees are displayed within their app for you to review before purchase. Should you wish to host your crypto in an external wallet, there are fees to transfer.
However, it can be held within Coins.ph. You have 3 options of fees for the transfer- the higher the fee, the quicker the miners will work to transfer this for you.
Binance Exchange is the most popular trading platform in the world, with a large selection of cryptocurrency’s to trade. One of the main benefits to trade crypto on Binance, is there low trading fees. However, watch out for their withdrawal fees, they can be high depending on the digital assets you would like to withdraw.
The exchange was founded in China by Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ. However, in advance of the Chinese government ban in 2017, Binance moved its servers and headquarters to Japan. It’s unclear in 2021 where Binance HQ is currently located. When asked in an interview in 2020, CZ said “Wherever I sit, is going to be the Binance office. Wherever I need somebody, is going to be the Binance office,”
Their P2P platform is a peer-to-peer cash-to-crypto trading platform that supports 31 FIAT currencies globally, now including PHP. Users in the Philippines can buy and sell BTC, ETH, BNB, USDT, EOS, and BUSD using PHP. Plus they can have their crypto assets transferred (using an escrow service) to a Binance wallet with zero transaction fees.
To buy Bitcoin with Binance, first you will need to pick your seller on the platform. Then you can choose various supported payment methods including bank transfer, Paypal, Western Union, and even GCash.
Binance actively searches for local merchants with reliable crypto and FIAT access. They offer benefits, VIP discounts, ad transactions and postings, and security deposits without any fees.
As this is peer-to-peer trading, the buy/ sell rates will differ. However, as mentioned, Binance does offer zero transaction fees.
PDAX is a BSP-regulated exchange that lets you trade Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptos directly using PHP. Established in 2017, its mission is to bring easy access financial services to Filipinos using their online platform and recently launched a mobile app.
Once you’ve set up your free account you will need to verify this to use the services.
Once you have been verified, for payment, you are able to use PHP. Or you can transfer your crypto from other platforms to start buying Bitcoin. To cash in with PHP, you are able to transfer using the online wallets GCash and PayMaya or from your credit or debit card. You are also able to cash in over the counter via bank deposit.
When you have funds in your primary wallet, you will need to move your funds into your exchange wallet and go to your trade tab to find your BTC/PHP trading pair.
There are no fees for cashing in or cashing out associated with PDAX. Although your bank may charge for these transactions. In terms of trading, for market orders, this is 0.5% and for Limit orders, this is 0.4%.
Crypto.com was founded in 2016 and was formerly known as Monaco. The company has its headquarters in Switzerland and with offices in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Crypto.com offers a suite of crypto-related products such as spot, margin and derivatives trading. Recently they have added DeFi products with their Earn and Swap features. Plus by staking their CRO token you can take advange of their Syndicate, Supercharger features and receive discounts on Crypto Loans.
The exchange itself trades crypto to crypto, meaning that you will not be able to buy Bitcoin using PHP.
To start trading, you’ll need to deposit cryptocurrency into the exchange. To do this, you can use the Crypto.com app to either transfer your existing tokens. If you don’t already have any crypto to trade with you can purchase Bitcoin with PHP via bank transfer or credit/debit card.
If you want to buy Bitcoin using your existing crypto, you can easily deposit for free into the Crypto.com exchange.
The exchange hosts 3 markets- Bitcoin, USDT, and CRO. To buy Bitcoin, you need to go into this market and find the crypto pair for Bitcoin.
Crypto.com fees work on a maker/taker framework which is also dependent on your 30-day trading volume. the fees range from 0.036% to 0.10% for a maker fee and from 0.090% to 0.16% for a taker fee. Previously Crypto.com has been known to run promotions boasting 0% fees.
Coinbase is a platform where you are able to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrency. There are currently over 30+ million users worldwide who are using the platform to buy and trades crypto.
As a Filipino resident, the platform only allows crypto to crypto conversions. Meaning you will be able to buy Bitcoin using other cryptocurrencies that you have transferred onto the Coinbase platform, but not FIAT.
Please also note that Coinbase is an exchange and you do not have access to your private keys. An exchange is far more likely to be hacked, so keep your Bitcoin offline and in a wallet. Ideally with access to your private keys. To find out more, check out my tutorials on Ledger, Trezor or Exodus wallet.
Coinbase is great for beginners but does have higher fees than some of its competitors. The platform has an up to 2% spread fee for crypto conversions dependent on fluctuations in the market.
Users can also use their trading platform, Coinbase Pro (for free) where the platform is a little more complex. Fees on Coinbase Pro will be cheaper compared to Coinbase, but it’s still a lot more expensive compared to Binance Exchange for example.
The Gemini exchange is again a US-based crypto exchange, where you are able to buy, sell and store your digital assets. The exchange was launched in 2015 in the US by Cameron & Tyler Winklevoss twins. However, recently expanded across Asia and is now also available in the Philippines.
Similar to Coinbase, Gemini offers customers $10 of free Bitcoin at sign-up. Once signed up and your account is verified, you can go on to deposit your funds. Gemini supports free deposits in USD and does not charge for Wire Transfers although your bank may do so. It’s also worth checking your PHP to USD exchange rate along with fees associated beforehand.
Once you have deposited your USD, you will be able to buy Bitcoin, Etheruem, XRP, Cardano, EOS, and Stablecoins like DAI and GUSD.
The Gemini fee structure depends on the way that you are accessing their site and also the payment method you choose. Gemini will also charge quite high fees for credit or debit card payments at 3.49% due to the convience.
These fees can be reduced by using their more advanced trading platform, named Gemini ActiveTrader. This platform is inbuilt into the Gemini exchange and you can reduce your trading fees by paying a maximum of 0.35%.
eToro is a popular, user-friendly platform where you can instantly and easily start trading cryptocurrency. The platform is regulated by the FCA and has over 10 million users worldwide. Their platform trades in USD. However, you can deposit in PHP with a conversion fee associated with this (depending on the PHP/USD exchange rate).
To deposit into eToro you must make an initial deposit of $200 dollars (roughly 10,000 PHP). You can do this using Paypal, PayMaya, Local bank (Via dragon pay in PHP), debit card (USD), Skrill, wire transfer, or Union Pay.
Once you have deposited, using eToro is simple. Functionalities include the ability to track real market trends, use a CopyTrade service to copy other user’s portfolio investments.
Plus you can even use a virtual ‘practice’ trading platform. To buy Bitcoin, make sure you are in your ‘real’ dashboard. Then search for Bitcoin, and input the amount you wish to purchase.
eToro is free to make an account and has no management or tracking fees. The platform does not charge for deposits however as this will need to be in USD, you will have a conversion fee.
In terms of trading, the only fees are spread fees which for Bitcoin is currently 0.75% and 1.9% on Ethereum. If you would like to withdraw funds from the platform, there is a $5 fee to do so.
Storing your Crypto
When buying your Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, its not recommended to keep your crypto assets on an exchange. This is because an exchange with lots of assets on there is a far more likely target for hackers. Also, without access to your private keys you have less control over your funds.
The most secure way to store your crypto is on the likes of a hardware wallet such as Ledger or Trezor. These wallets keep your crypto secure offline and away from any potential harm. However, these do come at a cost.
If you are looking for a free wallet with access to your private keys, you can look at the likes of Exodus or Atomic Wallet which are mobile and desktop wallets.
Please Note: Some of these exchanges are extremely busy ATM, so if you have any questions there may be some delays from customer support. Also, some links are affiliates and may not work depending on your location.