Philippines Contemplates Regulation of Bitcoin

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With so many Fillipinos now using the anonymous digital currency Bitcoin to send money back home, the Philippines government is now considering regulation of Bitcoin.  It would be one of the few nations to do so. 

“We are concerned with potential money laundering and consumer protection,” said Nestor Espenilla, who heads the central bank’s supervision and examination unit. “We are studying putting virtual currency exchange operators under a more formal regulatory framework.”

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas estimates the volume of remittance transactions involving virtual currencies has risen to at least US$2mil a month.

This is yet another blow to the online gambling sector with ties to the Philippines as Bitcoin has become a leader processor of Web betting transactions. 

Once considered a safe haven for operators the likes of Bodog and TopBet, as well as a number of well-funded land-based casino operators, the nation has aggressively cracked down on its gambling sector under newly sworn in President Rodrigo Duterte, much of which is deemed “unlicensed”. 

Earlier this month, the Philippines Department of Justice issued a “Be on the Lookout” bulletin for Macau casino tycoon Yin Lok Lam, better known as Jack Lam.  The Government also revoked his investor’s visa.  

That being said, the new leadership may not be the only reason for the Philippines to take this type of stand against Bitcoin.

Bloomberg News points out that the Philippines has stepped up its efforts at warding off money laundering and technology crimes after thieves hacked into the Bangladeshi central bank’s account at the US Federal Reserve in February and routed US$81mil to accounts at Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.

- Gilbert Horowitz,

Business/Financial News

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