Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has approved the applications of two new crypto exchanges that are set to begin their operations in the country. As a result, the total number of accredited virtual currency exchanges in the Philippines has risen to five.
In an official statement, publicized by the Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier, the BSP has reaffirmed allowing Virtual Currency Philippines, Inc. and Etranss to convert Philippine pesos into digital currencies. The two newcomers join Betur Inc. (also known as Coins.ph), Rebittance Inc. and Bloom Solutions, the latter of which has just been given official approval in May.
The authorities had previously deliberated whether the new operators should register as e-money issuers, since they offer wallet services. However, regulators chose to take a softer stance, as Fonacier stated that, “internal consultations showed that it may not be advisable, in a bid to keep the registration process simple for these new players.”
She also went into more detail, adding that, “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.“
Even though the Philippines is considered to be a developing country, the official stance on digital currency industry is reminiscent of crypto-savvy countries such as Japan, Korea or even crypto havens like Malta and Switzerland. Rather than hindering the crypto industry as is often the case in emerging markets and is most notable in India, the government has allowed it to thrive, realizing huge potential benefits, especially in case of remittances.
Over 10 million Filipinos work and live abroad and have sent an estimated $7.8 billion home in the first quarter of 2018 alone. Using digital currencies allow for faster and cheaper payments from abroad and the local crypto platforms are already reaping the rewards.
Coins.ph now boasts a user base that is well over five million strong, offering a variety of crypto-powered financial services, including mobile payments, bill settlements and even cheap credit offerings. The platform is seriously competing with traditional financial institutions, exceeding the growth rate of all of them and attracting $10 million of investment from Naspers internet and media group.
BSP has officially recognized bitcoin as a legitimate payment method back in 2017 and has encouraged further adoption of virtual currencies. There was even a plan to further legitimize the crypto sector by classifying all cryptocurrencies as securities, although we are yet to see new developments on it. The government has also stated that despite its pro-crypto outlook, it still remains wary of potential threats, such as cybersecurity, volatility and criminal activity.
In April, the officials announced that 10 blockchain and crypto companies will move into the government-supported Cagayan Economic Zone (CEZ). The crypto businesses will have to invest at least $1 million in the coming two years and pay $100,000 for the license. Earlier this month CEZ authorities have announced that the economic zone will host 25 additional crypto exchanges, offering them favorable regulations and tax rates.
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I have been following the crypto markets since mid 2017, just in time to witness the incredible surge of the digital asset industry. Fascinated by the potential of blockchain technology I’ve started to dig deeper and that’s how I ended up meeting the Toshi Times team. I hold a Political Science degree, therefore the crypto regulation development is particularly interesting for me. I’m also heavily involved with music, running my own label, a YouTube channel and working with distribution. People call blockchain the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and I believe it will change our daily lives in the coming years and we will have the front row seats to witness it.