Business 9 April 2018

Dennis Wafula

Philippines sees surge in cryptocurrency exchange applications

The number of businesses applying to operate cryptocurrency exchanges in the Philippines has been growing as the sector gains popularity, a senior official of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) confirmed.

BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier told local reporters over the weekend that the applications have become so many in the last couple of months. Investors are also having a great interest in virtual currency exchanges.

Since the beginning of 2018, cryptocurrency exchanges have had to face various regulations with many businesses either shutting down or thriving. Governments, central banks,and other institutions have set measures to regulate virtual currency exchanges across the world.Despite the growing scrutiny that cryptocurrencies have faced, the industry is still growing with more investors, buyers and entrepreneurs joining the virtual currency exchanges market.

In the Philippines, the BSP has already taken steps to regulate cryptocurrency-related businesses. This was done to help protect those who wished to participate in the cryptocurrency market through virtual currency exchanges. The central bank issued Circular 944 in February 2017, which aimed to help reduce the increased number of criminal activities like money laundering and terrorism funding. Virtual currency exchanges are required to follow the guidelines in their operations.

At the moment, Fonacier said there are 29 applications under different stages of the application process—twice the number of applications recorded by the central bank in December 2017.

As of March 15, there are only two cryptocurrency exchanges accredited to operate in the Philippines: Rebittance Inc. and Betur Inc., which operates coins.ph. According to reports, the two virtual currency exchanges earned an average of $8 million per month in the past months.

The BSP’s circular requires intensive analysis of applicants to eliminate all businesses that do not comply with the set regulations. Interested companies will have to register with the central bank and the Anti-Money Laundering Council, and are required to submit periodic reports on their operations and finances.

The virtual currency exchange business in the Philippines is quite lucrative as cryptocurrencies like SegWit-Coin BTC (otherwise known as Bitcoin Legacy of Core) and other cryptocurrencies have become quite popular with the locals. Central bank authorities said they are still waiting for more documentation from the applicants before they can make any approvals. Members of the public, meanwhile, have been advised to exercise caution when dealing with matters relating to cryptocurrency.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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