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Philippine Regulator Plans to Legalize Cryptocurrencies, Classify as Securities

The Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that it is considering steps to legalize the use of digital currencies in the country by classifying them as securities. The move comes following the financial regulator’s issuance of regulations for the cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin earlier in 2017.

The Manila Times reported that SEC Commissioner Emilio Aquino stated in a news conference in late November 2017 that the agency plans to consider virtual currencies as securities so that they can be regulated under the country’s regulatory code.

“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.  The heightened frenzy and increasing popularity surrounding initial coin offerings has pushed authorities to lay down new rules to protect consumers.”

The commissioner also stated that the agency is basing its directives on existing regulations that are implemented by its counterparts in the USA, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Other developments in the adoption of cryptocurrencies in the Philippines

According to Aquino, the SEC is also discussing the approval and licensing of digital currency exchanges in the country, which will be overseen by the country’s central bank Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). He added that the central bank has already registered and endorsed five or six companies that will operate as cryptocurrency exchanges. The exchanges’ services are limited to the processing of inward remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

Meanwhile, BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. claimed that the central bank is adopting an “open-minded approach” in tackling issues involving financial technologies (fintech) such as digital currencies.

Moreover, BSP deputy director Melchor Plabasan stated that Bitcoin and other virtual currenciesare both monetary and investment instruments that are very viable and whose risks are manageable.

“If you want something that is fast, near real-time and convenient, then there’s the benefit of using virtual currencies like Bitcoin.”

 

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