Filipinos now have several options if they want to trade in cryptocurrency. The central bank of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), has green-lighted two crypto exchange applications, giving them permission to begin offering their services in the country.
Last week, Business World reported that both Virtual Currency Philippines, Inc. and ETranss have been approved for operations by the BSP. Enthusiasts can now convert the country’s peso to digital currencies per an announcement made by the BSP’s deputy governor, Chuchi G. Fonacier.
Fonacier and the BSP have been somewhat hesitant on cryptocurrencies due to their risks. The volatility of the markets, coupled with criminal activity and concerns over cybersecurity have, like virtually everywhere, been traits that suppress further expansion of the industry. Nonetheless, the BSP has also recognized the positive virtues of cryptocurrencies in allowing for transactions that are both cheaper and faster, and has already approved three crypto exchanges for operations—Betur, Inc., BloomSolutions and Rebittance, Inc.
There had been discussed at the BSP on whether or not crypto exchanges should have to register as e-money issuers because of the wallet services they offer. However, this idea was eventually shot down in order to facilitate faster registrations for exchange operators. Says Fonacier, “Now, we are refining the rules… If your business model has a portion making use of e-wallet, then there’s an additional requirement but not necessarily or automatically an e-money license.”
As is to be expected, the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Council is going to have all of the exchanges under a microscope as it continues to combat money laundering issues. All companies are required to report any suspicious activity, as well as covered transactions, to the authority.
Business World indicated that there has been a continued increase in exchanges from the peso to different cryptocurrencies over the past several years. In the first quarter of this year, approximately $36 million worth of transactions was processed monthly from two of the registered exchanges.
Recently, the country announced plans to offer at least 25 blockchain and cryptocurrency companies the right to set up operations in the Cagayan Economic Zone (CEZ). The CEZ Authority anticipates the move to attract new employment for the area in exchange for certain tax incentives. Any company wishing to operate in the CEZ will have to be approved, and will have to invest a minimum of $1 million over two years, as well as pay a license fee that can run as much as $100,000.
Since last year, the BSP has recognized Bitcoin as a legitimate payment method. In November, the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it was contemplating the legalization of cryptocurrency usage by classifying digital currency as a security.
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