Bitcoin use grows in Philippines, regulators flex muscle

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 16 2017 10:49 AM | Updated as of Oct 16 2017 10:50 AM

A Bitcoin (virtual currency) coin is seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, June 23, 2017. Benoit Tessier, Reuters/Illustration/File Photo

MANILA - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has released guidelines on cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, as transactions involving digital coins grew, an official said.

Cryptocurrency transactions have grown to $6 million daily from $2 million to $3 million a few years ago, BSP deputy director Melchor Plabasan told ANC's On the Money.

"The main objective is to balance the interests of harnessing innovation, at the same time, managing attendant risks," Plabasan said of the central bank circular released in February, the first of its kind in Asia.

Digital currencies can be used for money laundering but this can be countered by anti-money laundering controls and KYC or know-your-customer practices, said Plabasan.

Virtual wallets should be protected like physical wallets using multi-factor authentication and securing the email linked to the cryptocurrency account, he said.

"It's like any other monetary instrument. There are risks but essentially, it can be managed. If you want something that is fast, near real-time and convenient then there’s the benefit of using (cryptocurrency)," Plabasan said.

Remittance costs can be reduced to 2-3 percent from 8-10 percent when coursed through firms that employ crytocurrencies, said Satoshi Citadel Industries chief community officer and co-founder Miguel Cuneta.

Satoshi Citadel, a financial technology company, uses blockchain, a cryptocurrency trading platform.

"I would liken it to the internet back in the 90s. Back then, the internet is so new people were afraid of it… Now, everybody has the internet, we don’t go online anymore, we live online," he said.

Cuneta said the BSP was "very progressive," involving stakeholders while drafting the cryptocurrency rules.

"We already knew what it was gonna contain. We are happy that it happened finally," he said.