th images menu user export search eye clock list list2 arrow-left untitled twitter facebook googleplus instagram cross photos entrep-logo-svg

Firms Seeking Cryptocurrency Exchange Licenses from BSP More Than Double in Past Quarter

Regulators say some applicants need extra license as electronic money issuer with Php100 million capital
By Lorenzo Kyle Subido |




The number of companies applying for cryptocurrency or virtual currency exchanges (VCE) license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has gone up to 29 as of early April, according to various newspaper reports published Wednesday, April 11.


That’s more than double the 12 applicants mentioned by the central bank as of end-2017. So far, the BSP has licensed only two VCEs in the Philippines—Bitcoin exchanges and Satoshi Citadel Industries.


VCEs are business entities that trade virtual currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) or Stellar Lumens (XLM) with fiat currencies such as the Philippine peso (PHP), US dollar (USD) or Japanese yen (JPY). They operate pretty much like BSP-licensed foreign exchange shops where customers go to buy and sell fiat currencies.


The surge in the number of companies vying for a VCE license in the Philippines is a sign of the growing willingness of Philippine residents and businesses to try cryptocurrencies as a medium for financial transactions, particularly payments and remittances. A Financial Times survey last year found that 2.9 percent of respondents in the Philippines used cryptocurrencies at least once compared to the average of 2.5 percent in Southeast Asia.


Noting the surge in interest for VCE licenses, the BSP is taking a closer look at the business activities of the applicants to make sure they are engaged only in purely exchange functions.


Those offering additional products and services such as electronic wallets that facilitate storage of virtual currencies will be asked to obtain other permits such as a license to operate as an electronic money issuer (EMI), according to the newspaper reports.


“If the business model requires [clients] to maintain a wallet, then it is but proper that they would be required to obtain an EMI license,” said BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier in a report by BusinessWorld newspaper.



Obtaining an EMI license would add more requirements for these companies, as outlined in BSP Circular No. 649. Most notable of these requirements is a minimum paid-up capital of Php100 million, which is the same amount required of rural and cooperative banks based in Metro Manila. Rural and cooperative banks in Cebu and Davao are required to have a minimum capital of only Php50 million.


In January 2017, the BSP published Circular No. 944, which detailed regulations for VCEs and the requirements to obtain a license to operate as one. In the circular, the BSP stated that all VCEs will operate as remittance and transfer companies, which means that they will be registered with the Anti-Money Laundering Council and undergo mandatory training on anti-money laundering policies.




Related story: What You Need to Know About PH’s Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Startups



As of end-2017, only Bitcoin exchange has obtained both a VCE and EMI license from the BSP, becoming the first blockchain-powered startup in Asia to have an EMI license from a monetary regulator.



Related story: After Warning Vs Cryptocurrencies for Years, Bangko Sentral Grants First-Ever E-Money License to a Bitcoin Startup 



Fonacier’s statements are in line with the BSP’s open-minded but cautious approach to regulating cryptocurrencies. In a forum held by the Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines last March, BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. clarified that while the central bank does not endorse the technology, it will not restrict its potential for innovation.


“The BSP allows the market to develop, but it has also issued regulations to uphold consumer protection and maintain financial stability,” said Espenilla in the forum. “The BSP does not endorse or promote privately issued cryptocurrencies, but aims to address it as it intersects with the financial system.”



Related story: 3 Truths and Myths About Cryptocurrency in PH, According to BSP Governor Espenilla






Lorenzo Kyle Subido is a staff writer of Entrepreneur PH

Latest Articles

Kris Aquino Namedrops Products in Her Recent Rants: Is This Good or Bad for the Brands?

A public relations expert weighs in on how the surprise mentions will impact brands

byElyssa Christine Lopez | April 23, 2018 20:00:00

AirAsia’s PH Unit Eyes 30% Capacity Expansion to Serve ASEAN’s ‘Digital Nomads’

The low-cost airline is preparing for an IPO by end of the year

byLorenzo Kyle Subido | April 23, 2018 10:00:00

Looking for Office Space? Here's a Field Guide to Serviced Offices and Coworking Spaces in BGC, Makati and Ortigas

These coworking spaces and serviced offices have caught the attention of global corporations

byLorenzo Kyle Subido | April 23, 2018 09:00:00

6 Reasons Goal Setting Is a Complete Waste of Time for New Entrepreneurs

Contrary to what you've always been told, goal setting isn't all that important for new...

byLucas Miller | April 23, 2018 06:00:00

Ask the Relationship Expert: 'How Do I Reconnect With My Partner When We're Both So Busy?'

A relationship between two entrepreneurs doesn't leave much time for togetherness

byMarla N. Mattenson | April 23, 2018 02:00:00

This Pinay Started Her Own Clothing Business With Php50,000

Samantha Dizon is the woman behind Candid Clothing

byMixi Ignacio for | April 23, 2018 00:00:00

4 Common Misconceptions About Cloud Computing and Small Businesses in PH

SMEs need cloud services as much as other businesses do, says Amazon Web Services

byPauline Macaraeg | April 22, 2018 09:00:00

4 Ways to Inspire Your Team Every Single Day

Being inspired at the beginning or end of something is easy. Staying inspired is the true challenge

byDavid Meltzer | April 22, 2018 06:00:00

Here's the Secret to Really, Really Enjoying Your Summer Vacation

Follow these three tips and your time away will be easy-breezy and actually relaxing

bySyed Balkhi | April 22, 2018 02:00:00

Why Elon Musk Hates Meetings

He called them a 'blight' on effective company operations

byNina Zipkin | April 22, 2018 00:00:00

We Can Soon Drive From Luzon to Mindanao With Gov’t Plan to Build 8 Bridges Linking Major Islands

Duterte administration to spend Php269 billion for the project, says DOF

byPauline Macaraeg | April 21, 2018 09:00:00

How to Deal With Negative People Who Just Aren't Going Away

Real life includes people who scorn your optimism because they don't have dreams of their own

byDeep Patel | April 21, 2018 06:00:00