2023 Year in Review – Five Things CryptoPH Says Goodbye in 2023

Pioneer crypto platforms, a well-loved event venue all make it to the list of things we are saying goodbye in 2023.

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According to Ledger CEO Pascal Gauthier, “It feels that 2023 was a year to get ready for the bull run that is yet to come. But the sentiment is very hopeful for 2024 and 2025.” 

However, before we embrace the hopeful prospects of 2024, it’s important to acknowledge the closure of certain entities and events in 2023, which might not be part of the 2024 landscape.

(Also Read: 2023 Year in Review: Six News That Shaped CryptoPH In 2023)


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Contract Signing Between Cebuana Lhuillier and SCI Ventures

In November 2017, Rebittance Inc., a subsidiary of Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI) Ventures, secured a crypto license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which is now the Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license. It is the brand behind OG crypto wallets and remittance services like Bitbit Wallet, BuyBitcoin.ph, and Rebit.ph.

However, Co-Founder Miguel Cuneta revealed that the company stopped its operations in January 2021, and “the Rebittance management decided at the end of 2022 that it will not be resuming operations in the future.” 

Cuneta then stressed that the firm stopped renewing its VASP license in 2023 and that was all done voluntarily. 

In December 2022, Rebittance was linked to the infamous FTX’s venture capital fund, Alameda Venture Capital. The firm’s valuation was $5 million, and the investing entity was Genesis Block, a crypto over-the-counter (OTC) service in Hong Kong with ties to FTX, but the co-founder emphasized that “the deal ultimately did not push through in the final stages.”

BloomX App

Local Crypto Exchange Reveals Reason for Shutting Down BloomX App
Local Crypto Exchange Reveals Reason for Shutting Down BloomX App

BloomX is a former crypto app for retail crypto investors in the Philippines by licensed exchange Bloom Solutions, which traditionally focused on crypto OTC (over-the-counter), remittances, and high-volume transactions. 

It brought OTC services to Palawan Pawnshop in 2018. And by 2019, it had partnered with Remiit, Czarina Foreign Exchange, and Direct Agent 5, which later received its own crypto license in December 2022.

Then in 2022, Bloom’s then-Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder Luis Buenaventura, revealed that the company forayed into retail crypto trading, facilitating over 20,000 trades during the lockdown.

But on July 2023, Bloom CEO Israel Keys confirmed that the exchange is set to suspend deposit functionality on its platform. All trading functionalities will be stopped on August 7, 2023, leaving users with the option to withdraw or liquidate their funds.

According to Keys, Bloom intends to refocus its attention on remittance and OTC services, which it was first known for. He then thanked BloomX users for their support and acknowledged the impact the closure could have on regular customers. 

“We initially created BloomX App to address a growing need in the play-to-earn space in the Philippines and provide cheaper access to cryptocurrencies for the everyday Filipino.  It was an experiment for us and our first foray into the crypto retail space,” Keys said in an email.

Draper Startup House Manila

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Draper Startup House (DSH) Manila, the Philippine branch of the global network of co-living and co-working spaces, announced in October that it would be temporarily closing its doors.

DSH Manila served as a venue for several web3 events since the pandemic restrictions were lifted. In fact, the first-ever post-pandemic IRL event, BitPinas’ Mint-and-Greet, in collaboration with CryptoArt PH and Tezos, happened at the co-working place of the space.

The Web3 PH Summit and the live viewing of AxieCon also happened there, as well as NFT artist Sevi Agregado. 

However, DSH Global Founder Vikram Bharati clarified that the PH branch is just undergoing renovation and has not completely closed down. But there is no update yet about the reopening. 

Unregistered Crypto Exchanges?

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It was tough being an unlicensed crypto exchange in the Philippines, especially in December 2023, when crypto exchange giant Binance was flagged down by the Securities and Exchange Commission in November. 

In the advisory, the Commission said that Binance is offering different financial products that are considered securities, like spot trading using leverage, futures contracts, option contracts, cryptocurrency savings accounts, cryptocurrency staking services, and a platform for initial coin offerings.

However, the regulatory agency emphasized that Binance operates in the country without the necessary license and is not allowed to offer or sell any form of securities. 

But the plot twist is that the SEC gave Binance 90 days before it would be banned in the Philippine internet space. It was after the regulator said it requested assistance from the National Telecommunication Commission and the Department of Information and Communications Technology to block access to Binance in the Philippines. At the same time, it also requested Google and Meta, the operator of Facebook, to prohibit online advertisements from Binance appearing to users in the Philippines.

SEC also said other unregistered exchanges will be target of advisories going forward. Is 2024 going to be a year of unlicensed crypto exchange crackdowns?

Read the full story here

Bitcoin, Beer, and Bitstories

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A monthly meetup by the community – Bitcoin, Beer, and Bitstories (BBB) started in 2022 by Draper Startup House Manila.

A series of live broadcasts of the event is available on the BitPinas Facebook Page.

However, DSH Manila is the event’s organizer, which also bid goodbye, which made the BBB another memory lane for crypto enthusiasts. 

For 2023, it hosted popular individuals to share their wisdom to the community, including Bitcoin OG Ramon Tayag, crypto lawyer Atty. Rafael Padilla, and even Scarletbox Founder Sheree Gotuaco. 

The first public announcement that GCash’s GCrypto is already available to all users was also made during the BBB April episode. Its first NFT collection, “House of Ohlala,” which was created by visual artist Reen Barrera, was also discussed during the meetup. 

This article is published on BitPinas: FAREWELL, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Five Things #CryptoPH Said Goodbye in 2023


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