What Meltdown? Crypto Comes Roaring Back in the Philippines.

What Meltdown? Crypto Comes Roaring Back in the Philippines.

On a recent Tuesday night, around 20 people crowded into the second floor of Joniel Bon’s newly opened internet cafe in Quezon City, 10 miles from Manila. Seated at computers with 34-inch curved monitors, they began playing video games such as Heroes of Mavia and Nifty Island, as music from Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 hummed from the speakers.

Playing these games can be a full-time job, and some of Mr. Bon’s customers had settled in for the night with slices of pizza to fuel them. The games reward players with cryptocurrency tokens for completing small, daily challenges. Often, players convert their tokens to pesos, the country’s currency, earning around twice the Philippines’ minimum wage of $11 a day.

A man carrying a child walks past a building that has a small sign reading, “NFT X STREET.”
The cafe, NFT X Street, is named after nonfungible tokens, the crypto collectibles.

Mr. Bon, 40, had dreamed about the buzz of activity at his own business after cryptocurrencies crashed spectacularly two years ago, dashing his hopes for a thriving game collective at the time.

“There was a point I had to say, ‘I believe in this.’ I had to hope,” said Mr. Bon, a former information-technology worker. “We survived.”

Mr. Bon’s new internet cafe is a sign of how crypto has begun booming again in the Philippines, which has long been a center of crypto activity. This month, Bitcoin reached a record high, capping a comeback from the 2022 market meltdown and bringing other digital currencies like Ether along with it. On Monday, Bitcoin was trading at around $67,000.

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