By: Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) – July 12, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has allowed the entry of three financial technology (fintech) firm locators with investments of $1 million each.

CEZA senior deputy administrator Raymundo Roquero told reporters the agency has approved the licenses of the first fintech companies which would locate within the 54,000-hectare special economic zone in Santa Ana, Cagayan.

Hong Kong-based Golden Millennial QuickPay Inc. Ltd. (GMQ) is the first to have been granted a license to locate within the ecozone. It is engaged in cryptocurrency exchange and fintech solutions business.

Apart from GMQ, Roquero said the CEZA has also approved the licenses of Liannet Corp. of Hong Kong and Ultra Precise from Thailand.

He said all three firms would be investing $1 million each and setting up their facilities within two years.

The approval of the licenses of the firms are part of CEZA’s plan to transform the Cagayan Special Economic Zone into a fintech solutions and blockchain hub.

Roquero said CEZA would only cater to firms with platforms operating overseas, and exclude local companies.

“There are more than 70 applicants. But so far, only three licenses have been granted. Six other applicants have fully paid their obligations but they are still undergoing checks,” he said.

CEZA has earlier said it is committed to grant licenses of an initial 25 fintech firms this year.

Last May, CEZA administrator and chief executive officer Raul Lambino said the agency has entered into deals with 15 offshore companies expected to have at least P1.7 billion worth of investments in the next two years in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone.

The firms would operate virtual currency exchanges, engage in cryptomining and blockchain production and initial coin offerings, among others.

The Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport was designed as a transshipment port, agro-industrial hub and tourism center catering to territories in the Asia-Pacific rim.

Following a campaign to eradicate illegal offshore gaming operators last year, CEZA is positioning the special economic zone as a “FinTech City” or the “Silicon Valley of Asia.”