CEZA issues more crypto licenses

Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) issued more principal licenses for cryptocurrency exchanges, bringing the total to 24 in the Philippines, reports.

CEZA also issued an additonal six regular cryptocurrency licenses and four licenses to 15 financial technology (fintech) companies.

While CEZA chief Raul Lambino did not name the companies that were added to the original 17 principal license holders, he did  say that they were on track with regards to limiting the issuance of principal licenses to 25.

Lambino was quick to clarify the supposed cap, however.

“It (cap) would depend upon the developments later on, ” Lambino says in an interview with  “If they (license holders) won’t be able to comply (with the requirements) within the period, then we will open the slot to other interested parties.”

To date, companies mostly from Asia except for Slovenia have been granted either a principal or a regular license.  These companies are expected to comply with CEZA’s Digital Asset Token Offering Regulations (DATO) and are committed to invest $1 million in two years as well as pay for license fees amounting to at least $100,000.  They also have to be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and establish a back office in the country.

In the same interview, Lambino emphasized CEZA’s strict oversight on cryptocurrency and fintech companies that the agency issued licenses to.  “We coordinate with law, auditing, and accounting firms in the country where these companies have their so-called assets that back the token they are going to offer, ” Lambino says.  “The requirements are very tremendous.”

Principal, Regular licenses

The license issued by CEZA is officially known as the financial technology services and offshore virtual currency exchange (FTSOVCE) license.  It can be principal or regular.

A principal FTSOVCE license “allows the firm to conduct offshore fintech and offshore virtual currency exchange activities.”  A regular license, meanwhile, is limited to virtual currency exchange activities only.

Both are provisional in nature which means it can be revoked if the company does not live up to its end of the bargain.

Fintech friendly

CEZA had been aggressive where fintech is concerned.  In 2018, the promotion agency amassed more than Php500 million from fintech services and FTSOVCE licenses and applications.  This translates to a 212% increase in CEZA’s income.

With the current total of principal license holders now just one shy of the goal of 25, CEZA  shifts its focus on having more fintech companies setting up shop particularly in the Cagayan area.  Strict monitoring and compliance, however, will remain the priority, Lambino says.

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