By: ATTY. MIKE GERALD C. DAVID, CPA – The Manila Times |

Fintech and Cryptocurrency Exchanges have started to establish in the Cagayan Economic Zone and Freeport (CEZFP). On 10 July 2018, Golden Millennial Quickpay (GMQ) held an event celebrating its grant of the First Fintech Services and Offshore Virtual Currency Exchange (FTSOVCE) Principal License issued by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).

The CEZA, through the leadership of Sec. Raul Lambino, envisions the creation of a Global Fintech and Offshore Cryptocurrency Exchange Hub that can house various Fintech and cryptocurrency exchange companies and service providers. This move is set to bring in Billions of Pesos in investments in the country and estimates approximately 1,200 jobs to open for the Filipinos.

This formalization ofthe entry of offshore companies operating Fintech services and cryptocurrency exchanges in the Philippines ushers in the way for more international companies coming into the Philippines by locating within the CEZA zone and thereby assures that economic and employment opportunities will be afforded to Filipinos. CEZA USec. Raymundo Roquero stated that it is expected that more than 20 companies seek to apply for the similar Principal License, wherein each will also be required to bring in at least four more companies to sign up as Regular Licensees (sublicense).

The offshore Fintech and cryptocurrency exchanges licensed by CEZA that are to be located in its economic zone shall be exclusively serve participants and conduct trading/exchanges outside the Philippines (hence, being offshore). Helping to maintain this objective is the use of the latest geo-fencing and Virtual Private Network (VPN) tracking technology. These will aid the CEZA prevent any user or participant having a Philippine IP address or VPN to participate in the activities by these licensees. This is reminiscent of the similar technology used in the online gaming operations licensed by the CEZA.

The main difference, however, and in view of the more technical nature of their operations, FTSOVCE license applicants are subjected to a more stringent procedure and the imposition of higher application fees. This aids the CEZA in filtering through applicants and somehow deter fly-by-night companies as it already requires a deep background check and a non-refundable application of fee of roughly Three Hundred Sixty Thousand US Dollars ($360,000.00), as confirmed by CEZA’s Corporate Board Secretary, Atty. Joy Alameda.

Further, deep background analyses are conducted through the probity checks provided by Y-Fi Solutions Inc., and done through the latest Know Your Client (KYC) technologies that evaluates the legitimacy of these applicant companies and confirms that these companies are registered in good standing in their respective countries of origin.

In addition to the applicant’s background check, these companies are required to submit their policies on Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Counter Terrorist Financing (CTF), and Data Privacy for initial review and evaluation through the guidance of the respective Government agencies.

Upon the submission of all requirements and after undergoing pre-audit procedures, the companies are given a provisional license should the CEZA determine the applicant’s fitness to properly conduct its FTSOVC services in the Philippines. With this provisional license, the licensed company (licensee) may begin operations while giving the opportunity for the CEZAto examine the licensee’s operations during the incubation period of two years through its central audit system and application programming interface (API) developed by iWave Information Systems. This will facilitate sufficient analytical information is gathered to determine the licensee’s fitness of being granted the full CEZA License, among other determinant data.

With the entry of these licensees into the zone, the gates are slowly opening towards the establishment Asia’s version of Silicon Valley—where tech startups, offshore fintech/cryptocurrency exchanges, blockchain universities, state-of-the-art health facilities, and other innovative infrastructures and services, are expected to rise. All these help complete the revolutionary CEZA Ecosystem envisioned by its administration that seeks to bolster the growth and development of the entire country.