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Philippines SEC warns citizens against dealing with unlicensed digital asset exchanges

The Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a public warning to citizens to avoid dealing with unlicensed digital asset exchanges in the country.

The commission reiterated that it is the body in charge of the virtual currency industry, and firms involved in offering securities must seek its consent. In the warning, the SEC said that individuals playing the role of sales associates, brokers, or dealers are expected to obtain registration with the body.

In recent months there has been a spike in the number of firms offering unregistered digital asset products to Filipinos. According to the securities watchdog, the firms are leveraging social media to target citizens, putting their funds at risk.

The SEC notes that these firms are typically engaged in selling unregistered digital assets, converting one virtual currency to another, and offering interest on virtual currency savings, digital asset loans, and future contracts. Other prohibited activities of unregistered firms include offering peer-to-peer transactions and providing learning courses to entice new investors.

“Considering the recent collapse of a large international cryptocurrency exchange, the Securities and Exchange Commission strongly warns and advises the public against transacting with unregistered and unlicensed cryptocurrency exchanges reachable and deemed operating in the Philippines,” read the warning.

The public was advised to conduct their due diligence before investing with any firm offering digital asset services. Users in doubt have been encouraged to check the SEC’s website to verify the registration status of firms providing virtual currency services.

A wild ride for the Philippines’ SEC

The country’s securities regulator has jostled with an avalanche of firms offering unregistered securities to the public, and the fallout is a new all-time high record in the number of issued advisories. The SEC issued over 70 public warnings against unregistered companies, wielding the threat of jail time and fines for promoters of the platforms.

In December alone, the SEC called out TetherPay, Gameloot Advertising Services, and Vertex Evo Trading, while November saw the Commission issue warnings against Hero MiningBitbankupsCryptoGix, and Crypto Marketers Worldwide.

Apart from warnings, the SEC has previously teamed up with law enforcement to raid the offices of certain firms flagrantly violating the country’s capital markets laws.

Regulators like the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have continued to view virtual currencies with skepticism over their lack of investment protection and wild price fluctuations.

Watch: Philippines has the most to gain with blockchain adoption: nChain’s Stefan Matthews

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