BSP ac­cred­its 3 new e-money is­suers

The Philippine Star - - BANKING & FINANCE - By LAWRENCE AGCAOILI

The Bangko Sen­tral ng Pilip­inas (BSP) said it is fast­track­ing the re­view of the ap­pli­ca­tions for elec­tronic money is­suers (EMIs) and vir­tual cur­rency ex­changes (VCEs) to make sure the coun­try is not left be­hind in the rapidly evolv­ing dig­i­tal space.

BSP deputy di­rec­tor Mel­chor Plabasan told The STAR the reg­u­la­tor re­cently granted li­censes to Coins.ph, Wise­card e-money Philip­pines, and Star­pay Corp. amid the adop­tion of fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy in de­liv­er­ing fi­nan­cial prod­ucts and ser­vices.

“We re­cently is­sued e-money li­censes to some fin­tech play­ers and we are com­plet­ing eval­u­a­tion of other EMI ap­pli­ca­tions,” he said.

He pointed out there are 30 EMI-banks and 10 EMI-oth­ers (non-banks) oper­at­ing in the coun­try as of end-De­cem­ber.

Lat­est data showed e-money trans­ac­tions rose 11.2 per­cent to 268 mil­lion as of end-Septem­ber from a year-ago level of 241 mil­lion with the value re­main­ing steady at P680 bil­lion.

In 2004, the BSP first used this “te­s­tand-learn” ap­proach to en­gage e-money pi­o­neers as GCash and Smart Money were al­lowed to pi­lot e-money prod­ucts.

This al­lowed the BSP to is­sue the reg­u­la­tory frame­work gov­ern­ing the is­suance of e-money and the op­er­a­tions of EMIs in March 2009.

Plabasan, who is also head of the BSP’s core in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy spe­cial­ist group, said banks con­tinue to take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties from utiliz­ing dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy in fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions. Plabasan

Tech­nol­ogy has be­come an in­te­gral part of fi­nan­cial ser­vices amid grow­ing num­ber of clients who pre­fer prod­ucts and ser­vices that can be ac­cessed in the com­fort of their homes or via elec­tronic ser­vices.

Plabasan said au­thor­i­ties are cur­rently eval­u­at­ing 12 ap­pli­cants for the op­er­a­tion of vir­tual cur­rency ex­changes un­der Cir­cu­lar No. 944.

The BSP has al­ready given Rebit­tance Inc. and Be­tur Inc. (Coins.ph) the green light to op­er­ate vir­tual cur­rency ex­changes in the coun­try.

Lat­est data showed the vol­ume of bit­coin trans­ac­tions in the Philip­pines now av­er­ages $8.8 mil­lion in the first half of 2017, more than four times the $2 mil­lion per month av­er­age in 2015.

The BSP has al­ready cau­tioned the pub­lic on the ac­qui­si­tion, pos­ses­sion, and trad­ing of VCs par­tic­u­larly bit­coins that con­tinue to gain mo­men­tum in terms of us­age as a medium for pay­ment and re­mit­tances in the coun­try.

In an ad­vi­sory, the cen­tral bank said it is equally cog­nizant of the at­ten­dant risks par­tic­u­larly the propen­sity of VCs to be used in il­licit ac­tiv­i­ties such as money laun­der­ing and ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing as the in­stru­ment fa­cil­i­ties the move­ment of funds at a much faster, cheaper, and con­ve­nient way.

“Un­like stocks or debt is­sues, VCs are not backed by any com­pany or com­mod­ity and the price is purely de­pen­dent on mar­ket de­mand and sup­ply. As such, investing in VCs presents a highly spec­u­la­tive and risky un­der­tak­ing which might re­sult into huge fi­nan­cial losses,” the BSP said.

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