SEC studies new rules for cryptocurrencies

By Miguel R. Camus@miguelrcamusINQ

February 6, 2023 12:00:00

The Philippine corporate watchdog is moving to regulate cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether and other related digital assets, as it seeks to upgrade rules that go back nearly a century.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) partnered with the state-run University of the Philippines Law Center (UPLC) to help it craft the rules to "initially address issues surrounding cryptocurrencies."

"At present, we at the SEC have been making use of laws and regulations tailored for traditional securities. Although these principles were laid down in the 1930s, they are considerably effective against cryptocurrency scams that are just run-off-the-mill Ponzi schemes," Emilio Aquino, chairperson of the SEC, said in his speech during the signing ceremony.

High profile collapse

"However, we strive to serve the Filipino the best way possible—that is why we are motivated to issue rules addressing cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, specifically for the issuance of digital assets and the regulation of digital asset exchanges," he added.

Efforts to govern the space come amid the surge in cryptocurrency usage in the Philippines—which has a reported 4.3 million owners of cryptocurrencies and allied digital assets.

The collapse of high-profile crypto companies in 2022, culminating in the implosion of No. 2 exchange FTX in November, added to urgent calls for regulation.

The price of Bitcoin has rallied over 40 percent to $23,300 since the start of the year. It is still down over 66 percent from its Nov. 2021 all-time high.

The SEC said the tie-up with UPLC involves the "conduct of joint research projects, capacity building and policy analysis, and resource and information sharing concerning [financial technology]."

"We commend the SEC for being proactive in addressing these challenges brought about by new technologies that enable more efficient ways of transacting business. Acting, especially, in defense of the investing public without hampering growth," UPLC Dean Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan II said in the statement.

Potential new rules could pave the way for the registration of platforms such as Binance, the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange.

Last August, the SEC warned the public against investing with Binance since it has yet to register operations in the Philippines.

This came after Binance CEO Changpeng "CZ" Zhao announced plans to expand in the Philippines and acquire local licenses to operate in the country during a briefing in June last year.