Philippines set to become Asian crypto hub

There’s more to those islands than idyllic beaches. Philippine government launches strategy to issue licences for crypto companies to operate legally in the country.

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As announced in late April, the Philippines are on the verge of becoming a crypto hub as governmental initiatives are opening up the market to blockchain companies. The Cagayan Special Economic Zone will be welcoming ten crypto businesses from across Asia to start up their activities and operate on the island.

The companies present in Cagayan are required to invest at least $1 million over two years, pay $100,000 in licence fees, and enhance local employment.

Since 1995, when the Special Economic Zone was established, it has been considered a major centre for trans-Pacific shipping and transportation, as well as being a hub for offshore gambling.

The government also announced the creation of its first-blockchain related organisation, the Blockchain Association of the Philippines. Union Bank, who will be leading the association, hopes to use blockchain technology to connect five rural banks to national and international payment networks. With the support of the project, customers will be able to access fund transfers, remittances and other payment processes in 3,000 rural branches.

The timing for the initiatives could not be better. Coin.ph, the country’s leading crypto wallet, reached over 5 million customers at the end of May, after four years of operation in the Philippines. Last year, coins.ph was certified by the Central Bank of the Philippines to operate legally as a cryptocurrency exchange in the country.

The Philippines is considered to have a high rate of cryptocurrency acceptance among its Southeast Asian peers. On top of that, the Philippines is one the biggest English-speaking nations worldwide.

Eyeing the opportunities, crypto companies are already making moves to educate the Filipino population on how to go about using blockchain technology. At the end of May, Bitcoin Cash organised an open event to raise awareness about the numerous benefits of crypto systems and offered seminars and workshops to locals.

The platform offers financial services via mobile to more than 300 million people in Southeast Asia who do not otherwise have access to banking services. As in most of the developing world, the Philippines also has high numbers of its population without access banks — estimates from the Central Bank point to 86% of population being unbanked — highlighting the opportunity for blockchain and fintech companies to establish a steady market in the country.

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