According to a July 10 announcement from the Philippine News Agency, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), which manages and supervises the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport in the northern Philippines, welcomes its first crypto exchange: Hong Kong-based Golden Millennial Quickplay Inc. Ltd. CEZA corporate board secretary Catherine Joy Alameda said Golden Millennial is the authority's first licensee for FinTech solutions and offshore cryptocurrency management to operate within the economic zone. Golden Millennial will be housed within LR Data, a technology services provider, located in the Cagayan province.
The license is provisional and only valid for six months, but Golden Millennial can obtain permanent licensure upon its full compliance with the CEZA's requirements. For example, approved exchanges are expected to invest a minimum of $1 million over two years' time.
Rules like this help prevent the island country from functioning as a haven for ICO scams and other related rackets. In fact, there is a sizable buy-in for firms to operate within the CEZA – it costs $100,000 to apply and $100,000 to receive a license, and additional fees are levied as companies progress through the licensing process. CEZA senior deputy administrator Raymundo Roquero said the fees are "all non-refundable. If you fail in the probity check, you cannot get [licenses]."
Besides Golden Millennial, the CEZA has approved applications for two other exchanges, although the licenses have not been released. Roquero added that the authority plans to issue more crypto licenses in the future. So far, the CEZA has received 70 applications, while six applicants total have paid for their licenses.
The CEZA expects to earn 3.6 billion Philippine pesos, which amounts to over $67 million at time of press, from issuing these licenses. The authority will also earn money through its 0.1 percent share of each transaction from the registered exchanges.
CEO of the CEZA, Raul Lambino, initially announced the authority's crypto intentions in April when he said it was going to license 10 exchange platforms. Since then, the authority has stated it intends to issue licenses to as many as 25 exchanges.
At a blockchain summit, Lambino expressed his hope of making the CEZA a Philippine FinTech hub, and said, "Our goal is to push the logical progression of these technologies into the mainstream, so that transactions that are mediated by them will be fail-safe, will be secured, and will be easier and faster."
In addition to the CEZA's efforts to license crypto firms, the country's central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, recently announced the accreditation of two cryptocurrency exchanges: Virtual Currency Philippines Inc. and ETranss. With news of more exchanges setting up shop in the country, the Philippines has certainly seen its fair share of crypto activity within the past few months.