Philippine SEC Commissioner Eyes New Regulations for ICOs and Bitcoin Exchanges

According to reports, regulators in the Philippines are eyeing cryptocurrency, reviewing new rules for the industry, as well as Initial Coin Offerings (ICO).

Emilio Aquino, who is the current commissioner for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently spoke at a conference just this Tuesday, expressing that his organization could potentially class ICOs as “possible” securities that will be under the Securities Regulation Code.

“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,” the commissioner said to local publication The Manila Times.

The commissioner noted that the ever-increasing popularity of ICOs pushed the regulators into looking at possible rules to protect the consumers. Aquino also notes that this move is in line with rules implemented by other nations like the U.S., Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Thailand.

The commissioner also revealed in the same conference that the SEC is already in communication with the country’s central bank Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) concerning the potential licensing of exchanges made with cryptocurrency.

“There are at least five or six companies which have already been registered and endorsed by the BSP but these are limited [only] to money services businesses to address remittances being done by OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) to bring down the cost,” Aquino stated.

In addition, central bank Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr also expressed that this change could potentially push other exchanges made with cryptocurrency to legally function as money changers. He also said that as of the moment, two exchanges are already registered with BSP, with several more still under evaluation.

Speaking at the Security Bank Economic Forum in Manila earlier this year, Espenilla Jr. expressed that “we take a very active role in ensuring that our policies provide opportunities for innovation,” saying that the BSP has a rather “open mind” regarding Fintech developments.

Earlier this 2017, BSP also released brand new guidelines for exchanges in the country made with Bitcoin. The guidelines suggested that these exchanges need to be registered with the BSP first, as well as the Anti-Money Laundering Council Secretariat of the country, and should, therefore, be subject to “annual fee services.”