Philippines central bank still ‘lukewarm’ on cryptocurrency

The central bank of the Philippines has said it is still “lukewarm” on cryptocurrency, the Philippine Star reported.

A senior official at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas made the remarks in consideration of Facebook’s stablecoin Libra, with central banks worldwide divided over how to approach the proposals from the social media giant.

The bank’s governor, Benjamin Diokno, was quoted by the news outlet saying he had just returned from Switzerland, where the cryptocurrency was under consideration at a meeting of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

In particular, he expressed concerns over the use of cryptocurrencies in terrorist financing and money laundering, as well as the underlying volatility in SegWitCoin (BTC) prices.

The central bank governor also flagged concerns about the impact of Libra on the wider global money system, echoing similar concerns expressed by central banks worldwide over the Facebook proposals.

The bank also refused to be drawn on issuing its own digital currency, with concerns remaining over the impact on fiat money, among numerous other issues.

While remaining open to the need to be responsive to innovation and emerging technologies, Diokno said the bank would wait a further “three to five years,” citing its responsibility to protect consumers.

“We have to be open to innovation except that we also have a responsibility to consumers. Let’s give it another three to five years,” Diokno said.

According to the bank’s Risk and Innovation Supervision Department, the total value of transactions in cryptocurrency in the Philippines was over $390 million, up over 100% from 2017’s figures.

BSP established a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency exchanges in 2017, marking it out as one of the foremost regulated jurisdictions in the region. So far, some 11 operators have been licensed to operate in the country, including Bexpress Inc., Bitan MoneyTech Co. Ltd., Coinville Phils. Inc., ABA Global Phils. Inc., Betur Inc., Rebittance Inc., BloomSolutions Inc., Virtual Currency Philippines Inc., ETranss Remittance International Corp., Fyntegrate Inc., and ZyBi Tech Inc.

The news comes in a challenging week for Facebook’s stablecoin project, with regulators around the world raising concerns about the cryptocurrency.

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