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Philippines Considers Bitcoin Regulation amid Remittance Increase

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:53 PM
Rebecca Campbell
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:53 PM

The Philippines government is discussing whether to regulate digital currencies like bitcoin in the country to improve protection for its citizens as the number of Filipinos abroad using bitcoin to send money back home increases.

Ranked as the world’s third largest recipient of remittances, with nearly $30 billion coming into the country last year, amounting to around 10 percent of the country’s GDP, the Philippines is ripe to take advantage of the digital currency.

The Philippine central bank could soon regulate digital currencies like bitcoin.

In a report from Bloomberg , Nestor Espenilla, a deputy governor at the central bank, is reported to have said earlier this month that the number of transactions relating to digital currencies was increasing. He said this was down to the fact that they provide a cheaper and faster option of moving money compared to normal remittance routes.

However, he mentioned that the central bank is concerned about money laundering.

We are studying putting virtual currency exchange operators under a more formal regulatory framework.

According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the central bank of the Republic of the Philippines, it is estimated that digital currencies used in transactions have increased by around $2 million every month.

Remittance Services in the Philippines

Last month Token Hub Asia in the Philippines celebrated its one-year anniversary as a remittance service for altcoin Eternal Coin (XEC) serving the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea. Owned by Japanese company Atom Solutions, it allows a user to send funds directly to a recipient’s mobile phone.

The Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) also announced last month that it had claimed a first regional use of blockchain technology for remittance by utilizing a pilot platform jointly developed with BCSIS, a local payments startup in Singapore.

As such the successful pilot demonstrates that payments can now be more secure and quicker, delivering lower costs with a lack of intermediaries.

Stepping Up Security

In February, hackers gained access to the Bangladeshi central bank stealing $81 million from foreign reserves, which were then transferred to the Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation.

While the thieves only managed to steal $81 million from the attempted $951 million, the money routed to the Philippines was then diverted to casinos.

However, in an effort to ensure that the Philippine central bank is safe from the type of cyber-heist that affected the Bangladeshi central bank, the authority announced they will be introducing a cybersecurity surveillance division.

The agency will monitor cyber threats, conduct surveillance, and test the cybersecurity infrastructure of supervised institutions.

With the Philippines launching it first two-way bitcoin ATM last year, the digital currency is set to only increase in popularity as more people turn to it as the payment choice for remittance services.

Images from Shutterstock and Wikimedia.