Industry information
The Philippines Should Not Miss the Blockchain Age

The Philippines has a big chance to become a leader in the emerging blockchain space, with all the stakeholders in the country should step up to make this dream a reality. Justo A. Ortiz, president of the Blockchain Association of the Philippines (BAP) and chairman of the board of UnionBank of the Philippines, said this at a media roundtable at the Manila House sponsored by UnionBank. Ortiz said other countries present a vacuum in blockchain development and the Philippines could exploit this.

 “If ever we missed Internet age, maybe let’s not miss the blockchain age,” Ortiz said.

In a previous interview with Cryptovest, Ortiz said that UnionBank is spearheading blockchain development amongst local banks because of its belief that the nascent technology could provide a solution to the many challenges to providing financial services to the millions of unbanked Filipinos.

Indeed, the lender has transitioned itself both as a bank and a technology company, Ortiz said.

According to the BAP chief, although cryptocurrencies are generating a lot of attention as a new trading asset, there are a number of applications where blockchain can be utilized. He cited faster and cheaper remittance services, as well as incorruptible storage of information via the cloud.

At the same time, Ortiz told the same roundtable that market and financial regulators should hasten the release of clear regulations regarding blockchain.

“That’s clearly one of the important underpinnings of a blockchain ecosystem. Regulation, the law, is an important part for mainstream businesses to get into the blockchain economy,” Ortiz said that “legal and regulatory clarity" could further unlock the broader potential of the technology.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) issued an advisory in January of this year providing details to consumers and businesses on how to transact using virtual currencies or VCs. The monetary policymaker is requiring cryptocurrency exchanges to register with the BSP as a remittance and transfer company. However, moves this summer from the BSP regarding blockchain, such as the creation of blockchain and crypto-focused departments, should give the commercial sector in the country hope that the clarity they seek will come soon.

For its part, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is in the process of finishing an ‘appropriate rule’ for the blockchain ecosystem. The SEC is asking the active participation of stakeholders in drafting the rules.

Cecilia Mueller Chen, a director at Zug, Switzerland-based Crypto Valley Association (CVA), reiterated her stance on transforming the country's blockchain community into a self-regulating organization, saying this is the preferred approach than subjecting the space to a strict set of rules.

However, she noted that both the BSP and the SEC are adopting an “open to learning” policy in approaching blockchain and its applications and opportunities.