CEZA is now fast shaping up as region’s blockchain home; inks agreements with 15 offshore crypto and fintech firms

Roberto “Jojo” Dioso, Jr. – May 21, 2018

Manila, Philippines—The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has now secured its position as the region’s most agile financial technology (fintech) solutions and blockchain hub today after signing a slew of agreements with 15 top offshore companies and soon to be locators in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP).

At the sidelines of “A New Venture in the Valley Unfolds: CEZA FinTech Summit 2018,” Sec. Raul Lambino, CEZA administrator and chief executive officer, said among the early offshore companies to ink MoUs (Memorandum of Agreement) with CEZA were the acknowledged world’s leaders in the burgeoning global “currency of the future.”

Already, the new contracts would translate to at least Php 1.7 billion in investments in the next two years, including application and license fees, to be paid by the cryptocurrency companies that would operate virtual currency exchanges, engage in crypto mining and blockchain production, and initial coin offerings, among others.

Days before the cream of the world’s fintech industry founders and virtual currency experts are to descend in Manila for what is shaping up as one of the most significant crypto currencies gathering of the year, Lambino already inked an MoU with the Korean conglomerate Hanwa Group with interests in chemicals and materials, aerospace and mechatronics, energy, construction, and finance.

Its insurance arm, Hanwha Life is the local leader and the first life insurance company in South Korea with total assets amounting to nearly USD 115 billion as of December 31 last year. According to the MOU signed between Hanwha Life and CEZA, Hanwha Life will support the fintech and blockchain programs of CEZA.

Lambino also signed MoUs with Hongkong-based Chinese firms Xin Peng Group, Changwei International Co., Ltd. and ST Union Capital Holdings, the last operating a trading firm in the Philippines’ business capital in Makati City. They are all interested to undertake the creation of an international crypto exchange platform and other related businesses.

“Working with virtual currency companies allows the Philippines to gain momentum in providing an environment that encourages financial innovation and inclusion, while ensuring that the best interests of the country, the financial system, consumers, and investors are adequately protected,” said Lambino.

He added, “This new development aims to drive the economy forward by creating employment opportunities and boosting job growth. The Philippines will be ready to provide cryptocurrency companies operating here with the manpower they need for their businesses.”

Earlier this year, CEZA said that it is looking at establishing a fintech university within the sprawling special economic zone to help supply the needed talent.

At the local front, Lambino also signed an MoU with Union Bank, the Philippines’ 9th largest bank based on assets. Union Bank was one of the local institutions of scale that launched first direct blockchain payment system for businesses called Visa B2B Connect.
Other players, who rounded out the first batch of fintech corporations in the growing roster, include Hachiman Technology Sdn BHD, MX Exchange Ventures, Hybrid Block, Coin Bundle, IPE Global PTE, LR Data and Solutions, Inc. Superieur Tech Pte. Ltd., CFS, Madison, and ANX International.

Based on the agreement, each company would get full tax perks. In return, each locator is required to invest USD 1-million USD in two years and pay yearly license fees.

The CSEZFP was designed to be a transshipment port, agro-industrial hub, and tourism center catering to territories in the Asia Pacific rim. After an extended campaign to eradicate illegal offshore gaming operators in 2017 and revoking the licenses of some 164 companies, CEZA made a pivot to becoming a ‘FinTech City’ or the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Asia.

To date, the special economic zone and Freeport only cater to locators with platforms operating overseas. It therefore excludes local exchanges regulated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.