Officials and innovators push for the education of government agencies, businesses, as well as private organizations, and ordinary Filipinos on blockchain and Web 3.0 to debunk misconceptions about the new technologies and the fast-expanding ecosystem they created.
Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy; Catherine Anne Bautista-Casas, first vice president and head of the blockchain and API business group at UnionBank; and Lito Villanueva, executive vice president and chief innovation and inclusion officer of RCBC, in separate statements said greater awareness on blockchain technology and Web 3.0 can lead to broader financial inclusion, more transparency, and better economic opportunities.
“A lot of the misconceptions about Web 3.0 actually comes from the cryptocurrency area and that’s because for most laymen, they link cryptocurrency with Web 3.0 or blockchain,” Uy said during a panel discussion at the launch of Multiverse PH moderated by Kenneth Stern, general manager of Binance Philippines.
“We need to make people understand that the Web 3.0 blockchain is a much bigger concept, and cryptocurrency is just one of the applications where blockchain technology is being used. The public needs more awareness of the peculiar nature of that technology—how it handles data, how it provides more transparency and accountability by ensuring that data is more accurately accessible but at the same time protected,” he explained.
The head of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) was referring to the system or chain of digital ledgers recording data or transactions in a decentralized and transparent manner that is made tamper- proof through cryptography.
Because of blockchain technology, the third iteration of the World Wide Web or Web 3.0, has emerged. Web 3.0’s main feature is that it is decentralized and “permissionless,” meaning users accessing services need not go through giant intermediaries like Google or Facebook but can themselves own and govern sections of the internet.
While Web 2.0 is called the “internet of information” where users have no control over their data, Web 3.0 is dubbed the “internet of value” as users can have full ownership of their digital assets and transact directly without having to go through expensive intermediaries. It is also in Web 3.0 where the metaverse— virtual worlds connected via servers and networks—is being built.
Stern said there are over eight million Filipinos holding cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. This somehow shows an openness to these technologies, as similarly shown by the increasing popularity of e-wallets like GCash, Maya, and BDO Pay.
He, however, admitted that so much more needs to be done to educate Filipinos and institutions on blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and the rest that the Web 3.0 offers.
Uy, on the other hand, stressed that connectivity is paramount for the widespread use of emerging technologies.
“Without connectivity, none of these will work. As the Bangko Sentral (ng Pilipinas) has mentioned, half of the Philippine population is unbanked. They don’t even have a bank account. So once we provide connectivity to many of these areas, they will have digital access and can connect with whatever platform. We have apps that we log into for connectivity whether it’s e-governance, government services, telemedicine, online education, e-commerce platforms,” Uy said.
“Once we deploy that, then we give them the opportunity to open digital bank accounts with all the different providers. And when they have those online digital economy,” he said.
Bringing unbanked Filipinos onboard would be “a very powerful force” in raising the country’s Gross Domestic Product or GDP.
“Can you imagine an indigenous person doing embroidery in one of the remote islands where they can only sell or do barter trade in a port where they have to take a banca ride for two hours, then suddenly they can now sell their products to the European market?” the DICT Secretary enthused.
Casas said one of the best ways to understand blockchain and how the Web 3.0 operates is through experience.
“It’s probably a lack of deeper understanding of what blockchain technology is, because I think you know, these misconceptions, myths, and negative issues surrounding cryptocurrency, some of them are actually true,” Casas said.
She shared that UnionBank has been steadily developing its blockchain infrastructure to include education.
“We ensure that in the bank, we’re not left behind by all of these things, but we’re really committed to help drive innovation. And of course, we help improve the financial lives of our countrymen and we are also committed to helping the economy,” Casas said.
Villanueva cited the BSP for being progressive while providing stability in the financial system and rolling out its digital transformation roadmap.
Dr. Donald Patrick Lim, president of the Blockchain Council of the Philippines, said the group is already working with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for the teaching of blockchain technology.
Lim, who is also chief operating officer of DITO CME and chief innovation officer at Udenna Corporation, said blockchain education can provide economic opportunities for TESDA graduates.