Philippines’ Economic Zone To Issue 25 Crypto Licenses

News, Regulation | July 3, 2018 By:

Raul Lambino, Administrator and CEO of the Philippines’ Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), has revealed plans to issue 25 licenses to cryptocurrency firms.

CEZA is a government-operated economic zone in the northern tip of the Philippines. It is a major trans-shipment point for trade in the Asia-Pacific rim due to its strategic location between the Pacific Ocean and the West Philippine Sea. In February of this year, CEZA created rules that allows crypto companies to set up offices and facilities in the zone. Under the rules, crypto exchanges are required to invest at least $1 million within two years and they must have a back office in the Philippines. Firms must also be registered with the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In an announcement on the CEZA website, Lambino said the authority will only issue 25 principal licenses for cryptocurrency companies, and each firm will only have sub-licenses of as many as 20 to 30 traders or brokers. Once the licenses are issued, CEZA will first observe how the companies will operate. If the companies are conducting an initial coin offering (ICO), Lambino said they must ensure that the tokens they are offering are backed by assets.

“There are many operating scammers who put an exchange with very little capital and they are victimizing investors,” Lambino said. “We do not want the Philippines to be a haven for scammers even if these scams are happening abroad. That’s why through our probity and integrity check we can determine if their transactions are just designed to entice unsuspecting people to invest in bitcoin or whatever crypto coin that is a fraud.” If they offer in the market their initial (digital) coin, they maybe able to convince 50 unsuspecting investors and promise them the sun and the moon. This is the Ponzi scheme. We are not going to allow it.”

Lambino added that Filipino residents will not be allowed to participate in ICOs, and the IP addresses of operators will be blocked.

“In our system, no residents of the Philippines will be able to enter because we are going to block their (ICOs) IP address,” he said. “We are going to block them. You cannot enter the IP, you cannot invest.”

So far, at least 21 offshore crypto firms have signed memorandums of understanding (MoU) with CEZA, which is hoping to become the “Silicon Valley of Asia.”