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

Quite recently, innovations in electronic commerce and business processing gained traction all over the world in the form of blockchain technology. With its proliferation, blockchain ushered in the dawn of financial technology (fintech) and cryptocurrency entering, and now stirring, the global business atmosphere. As more and more individuals and companies, here and abroad, turn to digital open ledgers and virtual currencies in transacting business and conducting operations, interest and investment in this industry continue to grow and form the worldwide Billion-Dollar market.

Meanwhile, in the Southern Pacific, the Philippines is in the forefront of this revolution by opening its shores to this booming market. Through the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), the country is on the verge of leading, if not pioneering, a government-backed ecosystem for the growth of finTech and cryptocurrency exchange business in the region.

In the recent CEZA Fintech and Investment Summit held on 22 and 23 May 2018, stakeholders, industry leaders, and investors from across the globe came together to showcase and discuss the business opportunities and possibilities this ecosystem is poised to bring into the country. Speakers from various business sectors—from the banking industry to investment agencies—shared recent developments and new applications of the technology and concluded that all these breakthroughs fit the ecosystem being created by the Philippines, through the CEZA.

To further ensure compliance with existing laws and regulations, the CEZA recently participated in an inter-agency coordination meeting with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) held last Thursday, 31 May 2018.

The coordination meeting brought about several inquiries from these participating agencies. Focal points were raised on several matters such as the type of services or transaction the locators shall operate; the nature of the job that Filipino workers will have; the possibility of data mining of information submitted by the participants; security and probity checks that may be in place to prevent crime and other frauds; and the overall setup of the proposed ecosystem.

The CEZA, lead by its Administrator and CEO, Sec. Raul Lambino, confirmed that the operations of fintech or cryptocurrency. Exchange locators shall be centered on back-office operations and customer service. Moreover, similar to how the online gaming platforms are permitted to operate, no Filipinos or entities located within the Philippines will be able to transact or participate in the ecosystem.

On the matter of data and transaction processing, Lambino added that state-of-the-art technology shall be in place to ensure the accuracy, privacy, and security of information submitted by the locators and participants. This will be complemented with multi-layer probity checks and enforcement of policies to prevent money-laundering, funding of terrorist activities, and the similar offenses—all of which shall be managed through the CEZA central system that will work in coordination with the respective government agencies.

Lambino further emphasized that the proposed ecosystem will be “conducive to global business” as it will not only place the Philippines as the fintech and cryptocurrency exchange hub in the region, but more importantly will pave the way to “the employment of at least 250,000 Filipinos for direct jobs in the next five years”—in addition to at least “a million job opportunities expected from related enterprises that will comprise the Hundred Million Dollar ecosystem being built by the CEZA,” Lambino tells The Manila Times.

Topping it off, Lambino mentioned that in collaboration with a foreign partner, “there will be the establishment of a Blockchain University” or an educational institution that will specialize in blockchain, fintech, and cryptocurrency to help train and educate Filipinos and participants in the industry.

Indeed, exciting times are bound for the Philippine economy as a comprehensive approach is being taken in welcoming this revolution in electronic commerce. The introduction of these innovations not only opens-up multitudes of opportunities for our people, it also places the Philippines on the map as a leading authority in blockchain-related services and enterprises.

Atty. Mike is a proud Kapampangan who took up BS Accountancy in Holy Angel University and later finished his law studies in Ateneo de Manila. Upon passing the bar, he engaged in private practice at Ong Meneses Gonzalez & Gupit Law Offices and began his teaching career in De La Salle University. He now serves as the Assoc. Legal counsel of DLSU and legal consultant to both private and government organizations.