The Philippines is becoming a magnet of cryptocurrency activities.
From foreign cryptocurrency exchanges opening shop in the country to homegrown startup sprouting everywhere.
Over the last two years, blockchain and digital currencies are the buzzwords in the Philippines’ fintech sector.
Here are five of the most exciting events happening in the local crypto world.
- Crypto Valley
First brought up by Atty. Raul Lambino, head of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), the Philippines aims to transform the northern tip of the region as the country’s “fintech city” complete with a blockchain and fintech academy to develop highly-skilled programmers to catapult the Philippines into the blockchain age.
Lambino envisions the Philippines to be the Crypto Valley of Asia, to attract fintech investors from Australia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China. Already, CEZA had granted principal Offshore Virtual Currency Exchange (Ovce) licenses to at least 24 companies.
He described the Philippines’ Crypto Valley of Asia as “the most ideal investment destination in Asia for blockchain, crypto and financial technology (fintech) companies” by offering locators “clear guidelines and transparency, attractive tax incentives, access to a rich pool of talent in the areas of blockchain and fintech, and other benefits.”
- DATO rules
Providing a more unobstructed view in digital currency transactions, CEZA in February this year, approved the Digital Asset Token Offering (DATO) regulations that clarify rules in trading and acquiring virtual assets, such as Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum.
The rules are aimed at providing sufficient protection to investors from possible risks involved in cryptocurrency trading.
In addition, the new rules require digital assets offered to have proper documentation with complete details on the project, issuer and certification and advice of experts and DA agents. All tokens must be listed on licensed Ovce.
In relation to the new rules, CEZA appointed the Asia Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Association (ABACA) of Taiwan, as a Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) to assist in implementing the newly drafted regulations.
ABACA chairperson Ma. Juanita Cueto commented, “The SRO model allows industry players to police its own ranks while also promoting and protecting the interests of crypto investors. The rules will remain stringent in assessing the ethics and integrity of firms eyeing to launch digital Asset Token Offerings.”
And in March this year, CEZA and ABACA signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote bilateral trade, quality exchanges, and cooperation between the two countries.
Enrique Gonzalez, Vice President of ABACA—a self-regulatory organization directly under CEZA—said the MoU would establish the Taiwan-Philippines Digital Corridor that will connect Taipei, Kaosiung, Cagayan, and Manila, with blockchain technology as the foundation for better economic cooperation.
- Crypto ATM
Early last month, UnionBank of the Philippines (UBP), the 10th largest bank in the country in terms of asset size, unveiled the world’s first bank-operated cryptocurrency ATM, which further blur the lines between (fintech) companies and financial institutions.
“This is a significant development in the fintech world,” said Ron Hose, president and founder of Coins.ph, UBP’s partner in the crypto ATM initiative. “This is a further testament that banks are now acting like a fintech firm. This launch blurs the line more, and we see this move for banks to change the landscape of the world of finance.”
The two-way crypto ATM is part of UBP’s “sandbox” program to allow its customers to use the machine to buy and sell cryptocurrencies for cash.
- Crypto wallets with Western Union
With nearly $30 billion in annual remittances, the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) offer vast potential for fast and reliable money transfer.
Coins.ph, the largest blockchain-enabled financial services in the Philippines, have partnered with Western Union to allow its more than five million customers to receive both domestic and international money transfers using their mobile digital wallets.
The two companies will combine their blockchain and cross-border platforms to enable Filipino customers to receive and send money from Western Union’s digital networks in over 60 countries and thousands of retail system across 200 countries and territories.
“There are an estimated 10 million Filipinos working or residing overseas. With this collaboration, we are proud to serve their families back home with even easier access to our suite of services and maximize positive impact on communities in the country,” Hose added.