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October 18, 2017 Updated

Can you freely transact bitcoins in the Philipines? In this article, we list down efforts by both BTC exchanges and the Central Bank to establish guidelines about the use of Bitcoin in the country.

Many people around the world have already turned to bitcoin as an alternative to fiat money. Some countries like Japan have even deemed it proper to regulate bitcoin. This move lent legitimacy to BTC, and to cryptocurrency as a whole.

is bitcoin legal in the philippines

Overview

With its popularity at an all-time high, it naturally earns the attention of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the country’s currency, money supply, and interest rate manager.

The Central Bank of the Philippines recently mentioned how Bitcoin is becoming popular in the Philippines. BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. even said last January 2017 how Filipinos have started using Bitcoin to send or receive remittances from abroad.

Is Bitcoin Legal in the Philippines?

BTC Exchange services are now registered with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Coins.ph, for example, is registered as a Foreign Exchange Dealer (FXD), Money Changer (MC) & Remittance Agent (RA). Furthermore, other businesses who want to engage in Bitcoin transfer needs to get registered with the BSP. If not, no banks will deal with them.

What is the impact of this and why is it important?

The BSP wants to manage the risks involved with cryptocurrencies.

This is to prevent some people to inject dirty money into the country through Bitcoins that gets converted to Pesos.

Stricter KYC (Know Your Customer)

Bitcoin companies will have stricter KYC (Know Your Customer). This means they will know who you are. (This is the reason why I did not put anonymity as an advantage of Bitcoinn in the Philippines).

So they are authorized to deal with banks

This registration allows bitcoin companies to deal with banks. In addition to the costs needed to establish a business, buying bitcoin in the Philippines means the user pays in peso to receive Bitcoin. Coins.ph allows you to fund your Bitcoin wallet directly from your bank. The same is true with the other websites.

Does the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas endorses Bitcoin?

The BSP made it clear that it was not endorsing bitcoins or any other digital currencies. This is because it is not backed up by any commodity or monitored by a central bank. Here’s a quote from the Circular they published early in 2017:

The Bangko Sentral does not intend to endorse any VC, such as bitcoin, as a currency since it is neither issued or guaranteed by a central bank nor backed by any commodity. Rather, the BSP aims to regulate VCs when used for delivery of financial services, particularly, for payments and remittances, which have material impact on anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT), consumer protection and financial stability.

What is the BSP’s Circular No. 944?

This circular details the guidelines the BSP had set up for businesses engaged in Virtual Currency Exchange (such as Bitcoins) in the Philippines.

What is included in the Circular No. 944 by the BSP?

  • Requirements for the Issuance of a Certificate of Registration
    • Details how a VC exchange can obtain a certificate of registration
  • Registration and Annual Service Fees
    • Details the payments the VC exchange has to do
  • Transactional Requirements for VC Exchanges
  • Technology Risk Management
    • Details the technologies VCs must put in place to protect its business and its customers.
  • Internal Control
    • Details what the Exchange should do to make sure it follows the BSP Guidelines.
  • Notification and Reporting Requirements
    • Details what and when will the Exchange report to the BSP.

Additionally, the circular also detailed the penalties for every violation that they might do.

Read More: Check out the BSP’s Circular No. 944 here that discusses virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.

So is Bitcoin Legal in the Philippines?

Yes, it is legal to use Bitcoins in the Philippines. If anything, the BSP ruling is a step that allows everyone to engage in bitcoin without fear of being classified as someone who doesn’t use traditional currency (AKA the Peso). It is a step towards acceptance. Also, it is a way of telling us that we can deal with bitcoins if we want.

So if a business wants to accept Bitcoins as a form of payment, the business is free to do so. If you are a freelancer and you wante to receive payment in Bitcoins, you are free to do so too. Again, it is important to note that the BSP does not endorse virtual currencies for reasons already stated above. However, those who wish can engage with bitcoins. Consequently for BTC exchange services, you must register first and follow the guidelines set up by the BSP.

Do you actively engage in bitcoin transactions? Do you know that Bitcoin is Legal in the Philippines? What do you think the government can do to promote virtual currencies? Or do you think the government must or must not promote cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments below!

Read More Articles regarding Bitcoin here:

Notes:

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