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Two Bitcoin Exchanges Gain Official Licenses in the Philippines

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:58 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:58 PM

The Philippines central bank has reportedly approved the registration of two bitcoin exchanges in the country, months after introducing regulations for cryptocurrency exchanges.

According to local publication PhilStar , the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has granted approval to two bitcoin exchanges to operate in the country during a rapid increase in the usage of cryptocurrencies. The daily newspaper cites BSP governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. who was speaking at a financial technology conference during the weekend. While the governor did not reveal the names of the newly-approved exchanges, he added that “they are local based but they have international roots”. The two operators are likely to international exchanges expanding operations locally in the country.

As reported earlier, the Philippine central bank released new regulatory guidelines for bitcoin exchanges in February this year. Prior to setting the ‘Guidelines for Virtual Currency (VC) Exchanges’ [PDF], the central bank previously classified virtual currency exchange operators as remittance companies. Among other requirements, exchanges will be required to obtain the “Certificate or Registration’ (COR) to operate as an approved exchange.

While small, the rapid growth of the bitcoin sector in the Philippines was the driving factor behind the central bank’s move to regulate the industry. Philippines is the third largest receiver of remittances in the world, with some $30 billion – about 10% of the country’s GDP – as inward remittance in 2015.

The central bank’s governor further revealed that bitcoin trading volumes in the country had more than tripled to $6 million per month compared to the average of $2 million per month in 2016.

Espenilla stated:

We see a rapid increase in the trajectory [of bitcoin adoption]. It is coming from a small base but increasing; that is why we decided to require them to register.

After approval, bitcoin exchanges will be required to submit quarterly reports of total volumes and value of virtual currencies transacted on their platforms. Audited financial statements are mandatory on an annual basis. Any violations of requirements will see penalties including disqualification and cancellation of registration.

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