BY LEANDER C. DOMINGO, TMT ON 

SANTA ANA, Cagayan: The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) announced on Monday that a total of 21 offshore financial technology (Fintech) firms are expected to bring in up to P2 billion investments.

Secretary Raul Lambino, CEZA administrator and chief executive officer (CEO), said the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP), being developed into Fintech solutions and blockchain hub, will soon be a haven for offshore companies who locate in this Northern Luzon enclave.

He said that after the Fintech summit in Bonifacio Global City, these 21 firms engaged in blockchain and cryptocurrency operations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with CEZA to bring in at least P2 billion-worth investments into the ecozone.

During the launching of the CEZA Fintech Summit 2018 last week Lambino presented the blueprint for a “technological garden” nestled at the foot of the Sierra Madre mountain range, and within walking distance of the finest beaches in the 54-thousand-hectare CSEZFP.

The Xin Peng Group, Changwei International Co., Ltd., and State Trust Union Capital Holdings — all Hong Kong-based Chinese offshore companies attended the summit and were the first enrollees along with other global fintech firms.

The Hanwha Group of South Korea, one of the leading blockchain developers whose interests include aerospace development, energy, construction and finance, also signed a MoU with CEZA.

Lambino said LR Data of the First Cagayan Leisure and Resorts Corp., IP Ventures and I-Wave will provide the technical requirements of the Fintech companies while Arthaland, a smart and green building in BGC, will serve as the Fintech laboratory.

“We have a perfect setting for some of this generation’s best minds and the world’s leading cryptocurrency companies to engage in the development of the next wave of technological innovations,” he said adding that the best of nature and of cutting-edge technology will combine to bring about a new hub in Asia for the world’s leaders in the burgeoning global currency of the future.

“We are eying the Cagayan Freeport, the jewel of Cagayan Valley, to become the ‘Fintech City’ or the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Asia,” Lambino said.

He said the offshore Fintech and blockchain developers will operate virtual currency exchanges, engage in crypto mining and blockchain production, and initial coin offerings.

“Their expected investments include US$1 million committed for physical infrastructure by each firm aside from the application fees, license fees, probity checks and integration fees in the sprawling facility,” Lambino said.
He assured the locators of a steady stream of Filipino manpower with the development of the first Fintech University.

The CEZA chief believes that working with virtual currency companies would give the Philippines “momentum in providing an environment that encourages financial innovation and inclusion, while ensuring adequate protection for the best interests of the country, the financial system, consumers, and investors”.

In July 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte named Lambino to the CEZA post and since then he has made infrastructure buildup his priority in the economic zone dominated by Port Irene which he said is strategically positioned to become an international gateway in the Northern Pacific.

He said the development of a new multi-lane expressway and possibly a railway that will link the gateway and the international airport in Lal-lo town would be the catalyst for the economic zone’s development.