In first world countries like the United States, we don't often think of our broadband Internet access unless the wi-fi is down. But in many parts of the world, getting on the Internet turns out to be quite a challenge in and of itself.
Take, for example, how poor people who live in the slums of central Manila, the capital of the Philippines, get on the web. There, Internet connection is still required for daily life - paying bills, communicating via emails and getting school assignments, for example, not to mention for entertainment like playing an online game. But paying a monthly fee for Internet access is out of reach for many of the residents of the backstreets of city.
The solution is a pay-as-you-go system called the Pisonet. Filipinos from poor or underprivileged households access the Internet through a vending machine-style PC: put one Philippine peso (about two cents) into a pisonet stall and a timer starts counting down from 5 minutes.
After the five minute is up, the computer doesn't disconnect from the Internet. Instead, the monitor goes blank until the customer puts in another peso. In this sense, coin is truly the currency of the pisonet Internet.
Photo by: Kimberly dela Cruz for Rest of World
The slums of Pasig City, metro Manila, where coin is the currency of the Internet.