After issuing regulations for the cryptocurrency industry earlier this year, Philippine authorities are considering further steps to expand the use of digital currencies like bitcoin in the country.
In a news conference this week, the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) commissioner Emilio Aquino revealed the authority’s intent to consider cryptocurrencies as securities, effectively bringing them under regulatory code, the Manila Times revealed.
“The direction is for us to consider this so-called virtual currencies offerings as possible securities in which case we will apply the Securities Regulation Code,” Aquino was quoted as stating. The heightened frenzy and increasing popularity surrounding initial coin offerings has pushed authorities to lay down new rules to protect consumers, the official added.
We have seen particularly in the social media sites that there are offers of initial coin offerings, most popular of which, of course [are] bitcoin and Ethereum…but [there are] new ones which may be considered as securities.
The SEC is taking cues from present regulations enforced by its counterparts in the United States, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand, Aquino added.
Further, the commissioner also revealed talks between the SEC and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) toward the approval and licensing of cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. Five or six companies “Have already been registered and endorsed” by the central bank, Aquino said, with their services currently limited to inward remittance from overseas Filipino workers. Remittances using cryptocurrencies are cheaper and faster than both traditional bank wire transfers and newer payment platforms like PayPal or Western Union.
In separate statements on Tuesday, BSP governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said the central bank ha “an open-minded approach” to financial technologies like bitcoin, pointing to two virtual currency exchangers currently registered with the BSP. “Several more are under evaluation,” the central banker added, following regulations that came into effect in February this year.
The framework was heralded as a “pioneering regulation” by the central bank’s deputy director Melchor Plabasan last month. He went on to suggest that bitcoin was both a monetary and an investment instrument whose risks can be managed. “If you want something that is fast, near real-time and convenient, then there’s the benefit of using virtual currencies like bitcoin,” the central bank official added.
Manilla image from Shutterstock.