By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla – Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 22, 2018

The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) has signed up the first 15 top offshore companies to locate in the fintech solutions and blockchain hub that it is building in northern Luzon, bringing in at least P1.7 billion in fresh investments in the next two years.

After an extended campaign to eradicate illegal offshore gaming operators in 2017 and revoking the licenses of 164 companies, Ceza is positioning Cagayan Valley to become a “FinTech City” or the “Silicon Valley” of Asia.

At the sidelines of “A New Venture in the Valley Unfolds: Ceza FinTech Summit 2018,” Ceza Administrator and Chief Executive Raul Lambino said an initial eight-hectare property within the 55,000-hectare ecozone had been earmarked for potential locators.

Within the next two years, Lambino added that Ceza would strive to build up infrastructure—such as catalyze the development of an international airport, a marina and a highway that will link the Ceza to the gateway.

Asked about the potential removal or reduction of fiscal incentives to special economic zones under the government’s tax reform package 2, Lambino said fiscal incentives were not necessarily the main consideration for investors. The four main drivers, he said, were stability of regulations, peace and order, infrastructure and entertainment facilities.

Among the early offshore companies to ink memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with Ceza were world leaders in the burgeoning global “currency of the future.”

For instance, Lambino signed an MOU with Korean conglomerate Hanwa Group, which will support the fintech and blockchain programs of Ceza.

Lambino also signed MOUs with Hong Kong-based Chinese firms Xin Peng Group, Changwei International Co. Ltd. and trading firm ST Union Capital Holdings. All of these are interested to undertake the creation of an international crypto exchange platform and other related businesses.

Other players comprising first batch of Ceza’s fintech locators were Hachiman Technology Sdn BHD, MX Exchange Ventures, Coin Bundle, IPE Global PTE, Inc. Superieur Tech Pte. Ltd., CSM, Madison Blockchain Strategy Investment Company Ltd., Asia Pacific Blockchain Association, Pacificnet Strategic Investments Ltd., SuperAngels Ventures Ltd., and ANX International.