Philippine Regulators Looking at New Rules for Cryptocurrency Transactions and ICOs

Regulators in the Philippines are examining a new set of rules for cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Securities and Exchange Commission commissioner Emilio Aquino said that his organization could classify ICO listings as “possible securities” under the Securities Regulation Code, a report was quoted as saying.

Aquino said that the development is being done in compliance with regulations given by the United States SEC and other regulators in other countries in Southeast Asia. While acknowledging the popularity of the nascent technology, Aquino said regulators were working with consumers’ interests at heart.

“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 said.

“This initial coin offering — depending on, as said, the facts and circumstances in which the offering is made especially in raising capital — may be considered as securities, in which case they cannot just be offered without registering with SEC,” he added.

The commissioner also divulged that the SEC is in discussions with the country's central bank, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), with regards to the licensing of cryptocurrency exchanges.

Some firms have already been "registered and endorsed" by the BSP, Aquino revealed, although they are limited to money services businesses working in remittances.

The shift could see other cryptocurrency exchanges being allowed to function as money changers, central bank Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said.

BSP has listed two exchanges as of press time, Espenilla bared, and more are still being scrutinized.

Espenilla Jr. added that central bank has an "open mind" toward fintech developments.

"This means that we take a very active role in ensuring that our policies provide opportunities for innovation," he added.

Earlier in the year, the central bank published new guidelines for bitcoin exchanges operating in the country, proposing that exchanges need to disclose it with BSP and the country's Anti-Money Laundering Council Secretariat, and that they would be subject to "registration and annual fee services."
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