Bridging OFW’s Through Technology


OFW’s are the the modern-day heroes of our country. They embody the sacrificial spirit of the Filipino people. To leave one’s homeland, one’s family, in order to pave the future for one’s loved ones is not an easy thing to do. That may be a bit of an understatement. It requires total dedication, and selfless love in order to accomplish such a task. Over the years, more and more of our kababayan decide to trod this path. They send money overseas in order to support the pieces of their heart that they left back home.

BeamandGo: Philippine Festival 2015 at Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

BeamandGo Team in Japan showing some love

This is where most of the complications lie. Money has always been a source root of complexities, misunderstandings, and issues. There have been many cases in which the money ,which was earned through hours, weeks, months, of sweat in a foreign, alien land, does not find its mark. In other words, it has become misused, and instead of being of help to the designated people, they become wasted on the guilty pleasures of an irresponsible individual. It has been portrayed countless times, a tito or tita who takes care of the OFW’s children, use the money to gratify their own selves. This is a very grave situation, and one which Beam and Go, aims to eradicate.

Headed by CEO, Jonatha E. Chua, their aim is to provide an alternative way to our OFW’s to support their loved ones instead of just sending cash. They present the option to buy food, medicine, health care, insurance, education and other essentials for your family in a hassle-free way. How is this possible? Their answer lies in digital gift certificates. These certificates will be directly sent to the phones of the target individuals. This eliminates the middle man, making it a purely straight transaction.

BeamandGo will also soon be integrating Bitcoin as an added alternative, together with the digital certificates. Due to its being a P2P (peer-to-peer) system, it fits the goal and aim of BeamandGo: to eliminate the middle man. In this new light, Bitcoin can actually be factor of the bridge that will gap OFW’s and their families. We are still yet to see if it will deliver on its potential, and if can go side-by-side with the already existing digital certificates that the OFW’s are more opt to use at the moment.

The start-up also makes their presence known through outreach activities. Only recently, the Beam and Go team went to Iriga city to meet with a number of OFW’s and their families, saying that digital certificates could never amount to human interaction.

This is a factor which start-ups often tend to ignore, the fact that technology is only a medium in which we express the solution to a problem that we are trying to solve. We are not robots, or pieces of artificial intelligence. We are still brothers and sisters at our cores.

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According to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas in 2012, over 10 million Filipinos work abroad, away from their families and friends, to earn and profit more to be able to provide and support their family enough. That’s over 10% of the Philippine population! It’s certainly undeniable that a lot of our countrymen most definitely persevere miles and miles away from a familiar face, just to be able to sustain not only themselves in a foreign place, but also the family they have to provide and nurture for. In occasion with the past Father’s Day, let us not just sit idly but think: how many of us have fathers that skip meals just to be able to send that extra cash that will later be used for tomorrow’s lunch and dinner?

You might be asking in your head, “Alright, so where does Bitcoin fall in all this?”

Bitcoin has everything to do with this. Overseas Filipino Workers, or OFWs for short, don’t just magically conjure up and send their earnings directly to their families. And so here comes remittance, in which you put in a request to send money so that your family could pick it up, and the steps can be quite lengthy.

First, you’d have to go to the local bank where you have to ask to do a remittance, where your foreign currency is usually converted to Philippine peso, sometimes decreasing the value of your earnings, especially in a financial crisis when you really have to send money now and the conversion rate is really, really bad. Then you’d have to wait for the bank to process the transaction, and you’ll be charged with a transaction fee. Next, enter your relative or friend, who would wait for hours, days and sometimes weeks for the transaction to finally be verified and be pushed through, where he or she has to just pick it up, which is very inconvenient when in the previously mentioned financial crisis. Plus, there’s another transaction fee that needs to be paid for the delivery and receiving of the money. Not only can the waiting be long, but the conversion and transaction fees can most definitely hinder and reduce the budget your family receives.

Thanks to services like Rebit, this process is simplified. With Bitcoin already huge in areas where OFWs are mostly based, especially in first world countries, local Bitcoin exchanges are very common, and you just need to bring your earnings, have it converted to Bitcoin and sent to your wallet. Afterwards, you just have it sent and delivered, while your family waits, and it takes just a matter of minutes to verify the transactions in contrast to days and weeks. Your recipient will then receive a message that the money is now available for pickup. Not only was the processing and verification a lot faster, it also minimizes transaction fees and can even give a boost to your earnings.

So we’ve shown how Overseas Filipino Workers can benefit from the opportunities presented by Bitcoin. Not only does it make it simpler to send money to your loved ones in a time of need, for as the world adapts and is shaped further by the Bitcoin economy and its community, we certainly find new ways and ideas to make the easy even easier and the fast even faster.