Bitcoin Making Inroads into Rural Philippines with WiFi Hotspots
Reaching consumers in regions where Internet access is limited to non-existent is very difficult. One startup in the Philippines is changing that, by offering free WiFi access to its customers buying shampoo.
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Keeping in mind how roughly four billion people in the world have no Internet access, it will be difficult to let Bitcoin make an impact in those regions. Using the cryptocurrency requires access to the Internet for sending and receiving transactions. Unfortunately, there is a lack of decent Internet speeds in a lot of countries.
Some Bitcoin companies, such as Rebit, are bringing Bitcoin to The Philippines. At the same time, this part of the world is not known for its high internet penetration numbers. Despite best efforts from tech giants, including Facebook and Google, there is no concrete solution to improve the number of Internet-connected users.
Free Wifi Access When Buying Goods
Luckily, some of the local entrepreneurs know what needs to be done. Wifi Interactive Network lets packaged goods manufacturers deliver WiFi to customers. To put this into perspective, WiFi Interactive Network lets brands carry the cost of installing WiFi hotspots at retail locations. By charging store owners a monthly subscription for this service, the startup makes money.
WiFi Interactive Network Founder Philip Zulueta stated:
The low-income market is a viable target. Because at the end of the day, everyone is a consumer. The fact that The Philippines is a major sachet market is testament to this. Smaller bite sizes but high purchase frequency – this is why our sponsors like our model because it is consistent with the target audience they want to reach.
What is even more interesting is how they serve customers ranging from bars to convenience stores. Every time someone buys one of the products at these locations, they gain access to the WiFi hotspot. Similar to how free WiFi hotspots in train stations work, users need to receive authentication. Stores will provide this authentication by sending a unique passcode to the user.
What makes this solution by WiFi Interactive Network so appealing is how it can be linked to any product. In most cases, it is provided in combination with single-use items, such as shampoo and milk. In exchange for their purchase, users receive up to 30 minutes of free WiFi connectivity.
A Positive Sign for Bitcoin in The Philippines
This initiative by WiFi Interactive Network is a positive trend to boost Bitcoin adoption in the country. Rather than having Bitcoin users rely on their mobile data connection, they can use the WiFi hotspots provided by these retailers. Even though there are only 41 hotspots in operation right now, it is expected this number will grow.
Of these 41 hotspots, 34 are located in the capital, and the rest are spread out all over Luzon. Bringing internet access to rural areas will be a challenge. However, the startup can leverage its relationship with Microsoft to install base stations broadcasting WiFi signals to these rural areas.
It will take more hotspots to reach all of those areas, and the company is looking to raise additional funding. Bitcoin companies may want to consider this opportunity to actively spread the word on cryptocurrency. By sponsoring some of these hotspots, word–of mouth about Bitcoin can start to travel fast. A “powered by Bitcoin” Wifi hotspot would be quite interesting to see.
What are your thoughts on bringing Internet connectivity to rural areas? Will it affect Bitcoin adoption in The Philippines? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: Tech In Asia
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wifi Interactive Network