Life abroad is too hectic for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to quickly send their hard-earned money to their loved ones back home. If you’re an OFW yourself, you may feel held back by the high transaction fees that banks and money transfers charge. So you sought more affordable and convenient means of sending remittances to your family.

The Philippines has seen a rise in various remittance services in recent years, such as banks and money transfer exchange providers. You’ve probably have sent thousands of pesos to money transfers like Western Union, Palawan Pawnshop or Cebuana Lhuillier. Or if dropping by money exchange agents aren’t your thing, you use PayPal for most of your online transactions (and force your family to get Internet-based deposit accounts, like Unionbank EON, for these money transfers). Or you prefer cash transfers via online transactions using your mobile phone (MoneyGram or Smart Padala, anyone?).

While there is a myriad of ways on how you can send money, these financial services are by no means foolproof and reliable. And the transaction fees aren’t cheap. In fact, experts warn that hidden back-end fees can eat into remittances costing up to 40 percent of the transaction charge! That’s a lot!

So what’s your zero-charge per transaction remittance option?


What is a bitcoin, anyway?

Bitcoin is a digital currency that came into circulation in 2009. An anonymous computer scientist, or a group of computer scientists, under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, created bitcoin. It works by delivering money transactions to the recipient without the need for a middle man (no banks required, yeah!).

At the heart of Bitcoin’s DNA lies the blockchain – an online, distributed, and shared ledger – that securely records all of your transactions. The blockchain uses high-grade cryptography to ensure integrity in calculating your spendable balance and verifying your latest transactions.

Plus, bitcoins allow to be stored in a “digital wallet”. The digital wallet serves as a virtual bank account where you can send or receive bitcoins, buy goods and services, and store them.

Note: It may sound incredulous, but bitcoins are not physical monetary objects! Instead of a “coin,” records of bitcoin transactions course through between your address and recipient’s address. The blockchain stores your every transaction.

What does bitcoin have to do with OFW remittances?

Bitcoin Remittances for OFWs - What You Need To Know
OFWs are now looking into bitcoins to send their remittances.

Everything, actually. OFWs – tired of working long hours but need to remit funds fast (due to a family emergency or something) – can take advantage of bitcoins. You can send in remittances from Saudi Arabia to a province in the Philippines just like sending cash digitally.

OFWs send about US$24 billion in remittances each year and pay expensive transaction fees. Bitcoin remittances eliminate these fees (via digital wallet) or significantly reduces them (through Bitcoin remittance exchange providers).

In the Middle East alone, bitcoin exchanges are already common. You just need to convert your take home pay to bitcoin and then send to your digital wallet.

After you have sent and delivered your bitcoin remittance, it takes only minutes to process and verify the transactions as opposed to waiting for days on end. Your recipient will be quickly notified that the money is now available for pickup.

Some OFWs may act reluctant to use bitcoins, but we are getting there.

According to Ron Hose, CEO of, “Bitcoin is very early technology, and it’s going to take time for it to gain trust and mainstream adoption. We know we are mostly working with early adopters, but the pain point is real, and so there is a lot of motivation for people to experiment ( US Bureau, 2014).”

Where to start?

You can get bitcoins in three ways:

  1. Buy from a bitcoin provider (ex.,
  2. Exchange them in the local currency online
  3. Sell goods and services using bitcoins

You’ll be more likely to choose option 1 and 2.

As long as you have internet connection, you can forward bitcoins to your recipient using mobile apps or computer (like sending cash online).

Here are the top 3 local startups that convert bitcoin exchanges into cold cash. is tagged as the best bitcoin service in the Philippines. It partners with banks and local money transfer providers, including ML ePAY, Cebuana Lhuillier, ecPAY, and 7-Eleven. In fact, you can instantly cash in bitcoin remittances using 7-Eleven’s coinsXpress. You can also look into’s new service, which turns ATMs into Bitcoin cash terminals.

Use to convert and send bitcoins directly into your recipient’s bank account. It allows direct cash pickup from Cebuana Lhuillier, Palawan Express, and LBC. is a secure order book bitcoin exchange platform that also allows you to purchase, sell, and convert bitcoins into Philippine peso and vice versa.

Since the holiday season is around the corner, you’re probably already researching ways on how to send money to your loved ones in a fast, easy, and economical way.

And bitcoin is the answer.

Just to give you a visual comparison:

Bitcoin Remittances for OFWs - What You Need To Know
Western Union vs. Bitcoin: A comparison

In a nutshell, remittance has often been a serious problem for OFWs. Bitcoins make it simpler to transmit money to your loved ones that are devoid of hefty transaction fees. Thanks to its flexibility and affordability, OFWs, local recipients, and merchants alike grew to adopt its usage.

That’s it! Easy peasy. Your OFW remittances are only bitcoins away.

Image credit:

The Bitcoin Society via Pinterest:
Screenshot [Twitter: @maren_Lesche]

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