Philippine Bitcoin Central Bank

The governor of the Philippine Central Bank has stated that the monetary authority is considering “hard regulations” for bitcoin and digital currency exchanges in the country.

In a recent lecture organized by the Philippine Central Bank, Nestor Espenilla, the deputy governor in charge of banking supervision, claimed that the bank is contemplating strict regulatory control over digital currency exchanges.

Bitcoin Finds Users in the Philippines

Deeming bitcoin and digital currency exchange operators as remittance providers, Espenilla revealed that the number of bitcoin users in the country had doubled. The official referenced figures from the first half of 2015, which had doubled the number of users from 2014. Meanwhile, bitcoin transactions tracked through registered companies ranged anywhere between $2 million to $3 million USD, every month.

In making a note of such numbers, Espenilla opined that regulations were needed as a means to enhance money laundering efforts. In a statement, Espenilla said:

That is what we are looking to do, whether it is now time to impose hard regulations for virtual currency operators. Right now, we look at them as akin to remittance operators.

In May 2015, the Philippines saw its first ever two-way bitcoin ATM, installed the heart of capital Manila’s financial district.

A Remittance Destination

The Philippines is the world’s third largest recipient of remittances, with nearly $30 billion coming into the country in 2015. That’s nearly 10% of the country’s GDP.

The speech was primarily organized to address February’s infamous cyber-heist which saw hackers steal $81 million from the NY Fed Reserve account belonging to the Bangladesh central bank, Reuters reported.

In an effort to ensure that the Philippine central bank is safeguarded from the kind of cyber-heist that affected the Bangladeshi central bank, the authority is implementing a separate cyber security surveillance division. The agency will monitor cyber threats, conduct surveillance and test the cybersecurity infrastructure of supervised institutions.

Featured image from Shutterstock.