Why the Biggest Microfinance Institution in the Philippines is Investing in Blockchain Startup SCI Ventures

Written by Mike Mislos

August 8, 2019 – Cebuana Lhuillier taking a stake in blockchain and fintech startup SCI last June is a sign of change for both companies when it comes to how they plan to forge their future ahead together. The partnership will signal SCI playing a role in their digital transformation while also potentially helping the trusted remittance outlet to explore blockchain and cryptocurrency. One low hanging fruit is enabling the use of blockchain-powered transactions or financial services via Cebuana outlets across the Philippines.

Last Mile Powerhouse Cebuana Lhuillier

In remittance transactions, the last mile refers to that outlet where a customer can finally withdraw the cash sent to them by someone, probably from abroad or the metro. In the local setting, we sometimes refer to pawnshops and money changers as the last mile outlets. The largest of them all is Cebuana Lhuillier.

With over 2,500 branches in the Philippines, Cebuana Lhuillier is in front of more than 70% of the country’s unbanked population. Recognizing digital transformation as its next big priority, Cebuana’s parent company P.J Lhuillier is aware of the trend where fintech companies partner with brick and mortar remittance outlets to create a digital presence or update their old processes with the times.

SCI Stake Acquisition

Because of that, P.J Lhuillier acquired a stake in SCI Ventures (Satoshi Citadel Industries) in order to kickstart this digital transformation. SCI will be a key piece in a multi-pronged approach to introduce cutting-edge financial technology to Cebuana Lhuillier’s 4,000 domestic partners and one million combined physical and virtual touchpoints worldwide.

SCI Ventures and Blockchain

SCI, a pioneer Bitcoin and blockchain company in the Philippines is at the forefront of the rising demand for cryptocurrency and other digital assets. As one of the few companies in the Philippines with a virtual currency license, it is legally allowed by the government to facilitate crypto to fiat transactions and vice versa. Data from the country’s Central Bank, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has revealed that virtual currency transactions have doubled in 2018. If we looked further, data from 2017 also revealed increased crypto transactions in the Philippines vs the previous years. This data came from reports submitted by virtual currency-licensed companies like SCI Ventures.

Low Hanging Fruit

SCI Co-founder Miguel Cuneta welcomed the partnership with the giant financial service provider as a step forward for both companies. “We hopefully will be able to play a role in Cebuana’s move into the digital fintech world, and maybe even explore potential use cases for blockchain technology and cryptocurrency in the future,” he said in our exclusive interview.

One low hanging fruit, he said, is enabling the use of blockchain-powered transactions or financial services via Cebuana outlets. This is significant because, currently, Cebuana Lhuillier has 11 million active users in their loyalty card program and serves over 25 million Filipinos around the world.

“They basically have the audience already onboarded. Cebuana is one of the most trusted brands in the country, and since trust is a major consideration as to why Filipinos would use a financial service, they already have that advantage going for them.”- Miguel Cuneta, Co-founder, SCI Ventures

Cebuana Lhuillier President and CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier said:

“This is another milestone in our continuing pursuit to expand our horizon and make a significant impact as we enter the digital arena. With our robust 2,500 branch network and strong partnerships with key financial players such as SCI in place, we are ready to take advantage of our unique ‘bricktech’ set-up and make our mark”

One Step Towards Blockchain and Crypto Awareness

With the country being one of the biggest recipients of remittances from around the world, Cebuana Lhuillier can benefit from using blockchain as a way to move money. Apart from transfer speed, what’s important here is the cost efficiency because with blockchain, there is no need to trust more middlemen companies and will allow more partners that can make use of Cebuana as a cashout partner.

SCI Ventures is not just doing business remitting money through blockchain. For many years, it has been a thought leader in the blockchain and crypto space in the Philippines, spreading the tech’s advantages and usecases through meetups, seminars, and even conferences, government, universities, and private offices where they are often invited to talk more about this disruptive technology. The partnership will potentially allow SCI to have a more hands-on approach in Cebuana’s transformation and will make them more aware for the possible use cases of blockchain and cryptocurrency. As mentioned, Cebuana Lhuillier is the biggest non-bank financial institution in the Philippines. Turning them into blockchain can make haste of one of SCI’s vision – to use fintech and blockchain technology to provide accessible financial services for everyone.

CORPORATE AGENT PARTNERS

  • ACTION.ABLE, INC.
  • ALL ACCESS GATEWAY INC.
  • ANTRECCO (AGUSAN DEL NORTE TEACHERS, RETIREES, EMPLOYEES & COMMUNITY COOPERATIVE)
  • ACM VIP
  • ALL CASH
  • AGRILIFE/ AGRIVET
  • ASENSO PINOY STORE, INC. (EASY DAY SHOP)
  • AVICOM ENTERPRISES
  • AYALA ALABANG VILLAGE ASSOCIATION
  • BAUG CARP MULTI PURPOSE COOPERATIVE
  • BAGUIO BENGUET COOP
  • CARD BANK INC
  • CARD MRI RIZAL BANK INC
  • CARD SME BANK
  • CARITAS BANCO NG MASA, INC.
  • CEBU PEOPLE’S MULTIPURPOSE COOPERATIVE
  • CIS BAYAD CENTER, INC
  • COOPERATIVE BANK OF BOHOL, INC
  • COUNTRY BUILDERS BANK
  • CREDENCE FINANCING, INC.
  • CURAMED PHARMACY
  • DALTON PAWNSHOP AND JEWELRY INC.
  • DANIELA PAWNSHOP
  • DIRECT AGENT 5 (DA 5)
  • DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILS.
  • EXPRESSPAY INC.
  • EVRIJEM FOREIGN EXCHANGE AND MONEY REMITTANCE
  • FILHAI MULTI PURPOSE COOPERATIVE
  • GLOBAL PINOY REMITTANCE AND SERVICES (GPRS)
  • GEMARY PAWNSHOP AND JEWELRY (CORP.)

OVER 600 BILLER PARTNERS NATIONWIDE

  • 123 FINANCE CORPORATION
  • 123 LENDING CORPORATION
  • 2C2P
  • 8AMC (VIA ECPAY)
  • ABEJO WATERS CORP.
  • ABRA
  • ACOM CONSUMER FINANCE CORPORATION
  • ACTIVE REALTY & DEVELOPMENT CORP.
  • ADA MANUFACTURING CORPORATION (VIA ECPAY)
  • AEON CREDIT SERVICE
  • AETERNITAS CHAPELS AND COLUMBARIUM (VIA ECPAY)
  • AFC SME FINANCE INC
  • AFTERWEST MICROLOANS INC
  • AGODA – DRAGONPAY
  • AGRIBANK
  • AGRO-INDUSTRIAL FOUNDATION COLLEGE OF THE PHILS.
  • AGUSAN DEL NORTE ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC.
  • AIR YOU GO TRAVELS PHILIPPINES CO.
  • AKLAN ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC.
  • ALAMINOS CITY WATER DISTRICT (VIA ECPAY)
  • ALLIANZ PNB LIFE INSURANCE INC.
  • ALPHA FUND SAVINGS & CREDIT COOPERATIVE (VIA ECPAY)
  • AMADEO WATER DISTRICT (VIA ECPAY)
  • AMYA POLYTECHNIC COLLEGE, INC. AND FINANCING CORPORATION (LENDPINOY)
  • ANGAT WATER DISTRICT (VIA ECPAY)
  • ANGELES ELECTRIC COMPANY ANGELICUM SCHOOL , INC. ILOILO CITY (VIA ECPAY)
  • ANJELMAN REAL ESTATE LEASING
  • ANTIQUE ELECTRIC COOP, INC ANTRECCO (BILLS PAYMENT)

OVER 600 BILLER PARTNERS NATIONWIDE

  • 123 FINANCE CORPORATION
  • 123 LENDING CORPORATION
  • 2C2P
  • 8AMC (VIA ECPAY)
  • ABEJO WATERS CORP.
  • ABRA
  • ACOM CONSUMER FINANCE CORPORATION
  • ACTIVE REALTY & DEVELOPMENT CORP.
  • ADA MANUFACTURING CORPORATION (VIA ECPAY)
  • CREDIT SERVICE
  • AETERNITAS CHAPELS AND COLUMBARIUM (via ECPAY)
  • AFC SME FINANCE INC
  • AFTERWEST MICROLOANS INC
  • AGODA – DRAGONPAY
  • AGRIBANK
  • AGRO-INDUSTRIAL FOUNDATION COLLEGE OF THE PHILS.
  • AGUSAN DEL NORTE ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC.
  • AIR YOU GO TRAVELS PHILIPPINES CO.
  • AKLAN ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC.
  • ALAMINOS CITY WATER DISTRICT (via ECPAY)
  • CREDENCE FINANCING, INC.
  • CURAMED PHARMACY
  • DALTON PAWNSHOP AND JEWELRY INC.
  • DANIELA PAWNSHOP
  • DIRECT AGENT 5 (DA 5)
  • DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILS.
  • EXPRESSPAY INC.
  • EVRIJEM FOREIGN EXCHANGE AND MONEY REMITTANCE
  • FILHAI MULTI PURPOSE COOPERATIVE
  • GLOBAL PINOY REMITTANCE AND SERVICES (GPRS)
  • GEMARY PAWNSHOP AND JEWELRY (CORP.)

List of Accepted Government/ Valid IDs

  • Passport
  • Driver’s License
  • Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) ID
  • National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance
  • Police Clearance
  • Postal ID
  • Voter’s ID
  • Philippine Identification (PhilID) card
  • Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) e-Card
  • Social Security System (SSS) ID
  • Senior Citizen’s ID
  • Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) ID
  • OFW ID
  • Seaman’s Book
  • Alien Certification of Registration (ACR)
  • Barangay Certificate or ID (with picture and signature)
  • Birth Certificate (applicable to minors only)
  • Firearm License
  • Immigrant Certificate of Registration
  • Marriage License
  • National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons
  • New TIN ID
  • OWWA ID
  • Student ID
  • Alien Certification of Registration (ACR) / Immigrant Certificate of Registration
  • Government Office or Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC) ID (e.g. AFP ID, HDMF (Pag-ibig Fund) ID, etc.
  • Certification from the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP)
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Certification
  • Integrated Bar of the Philippines ID (IBP)
  • Company IDs issued by private entities or institutions registered with or supervised or regulated either by the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas), SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) or IC (Insurance Commission)

IDs Accepted

As required by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), clients who engage in a financial transaction with covered institutions for the first time shall be required to present the original and submit a clear copy of at least ONE (1) valid photo-bearing identification document issued by an official authority. For our clients’ convenience, Cebuana no longer requires submission of the photocopied ID. IDs are captured using a webcam in all branches. Clients are also required to submit an updated photo and other relevant information whenever the need for it arises.

Forms of identification accepted are the following;

Pawn Accepted IDs
1. Passport
2. Driver’s License
3. Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) ID
4. National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance
5. Police Clearance
6. Postal ID
7. Voter’s ID
8. Philippine Identification (PhilID) card
9. Social Security System (SSS) Card / Unified Multi-Purpose ID (UMID)
10. Barangay Certification
11. Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) e-Card
12. Senior Citizen Card
13. Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) ID
14. OFW ID
15. Seaman’s Book
16. Alien Certification of Registration/Immigrant Certificate of Registration (for foreigners)
17. Government Office and GOCC ID, e.g., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP ID)
18. Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF ID)
19. Certification from the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP)
20. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Certification
21. Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) ID
22. Company IDs issued by private entities or institutions registered with or supervised or regulated either by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Securities and Exchange Commission or Insurance Commission
23. ID issued by the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA)