With editing and editor’s notes by Michael Mislos
In an eventful year for cryptocurrency in the Philippines, 2023 unfolded with key developments reshaping the sector.
Table of Contents
Top 6 CryptoPH News in the Philippines This 2023
The following highlights the biggest crypto news developments in the Philippines that BitPinas thinks will continue to have an impact on the local industry for years to come.
1. SEC advisory vs Binance rattles crypto community
Editor’s Note: The recent advisory from the SEC against Binance was likely inevitable, considering Binance’s presence in the Philippines predates 2023. This development has significantly impacted the local cryptocurrency community, eliciting mixed reactions—some are in favor of the decision, while others are strongly opposed. The SEC anticipates that access to Binance will be restricted in the Philippines within the next three months. We will continue to monitor and report on the evolving situation.
On the heels of a landmark case vs Binance in the U.S. where the company and its CEO Changpeng Zhao pled guilty to violating the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and admitting to allowing money laundering to happen within the exchange, the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (PH SEC) released its advisory vs Binance for illegal and unauthorized operations in the Philippines.
- The advisory explicitly states that Binance is not authorized to sell or offer securities to the public in the Philippines.
- According to the SEC, although Binance is a registered broker/dealer abroad, its operations within the Philippines must comply with specific regulations outlined in the Securities Regulation Code (SRC).
- Binance first announced it would halt marketing efforts in the Philippines on November 29, but later retracted the statement. The company then issued a statement acknowledging and respecting the Philippines SEC’s concerns. Binance said it is committed to aligning with local regulations and has taken proactive measures to address regulatory issues.
Before this, SEC Commissioner Kelvin Lee announced in a Bitpinas that the Commission filed a request for collaboration with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to block unregistered cryptocurrency exchanges and platforms in the country.
- PH Crypto Community Reacts to SEC Warning vs. Binance
- [Recap] Is Binance Going to be Banned in the Philippines? | BitPinas Webcast 32
2. Gcrypto Launch
Editor’s Note: Had the SEC’s advisory against Binance not emerged, the highlight of our 2023 news would have been the launch of GCrypto. With a user base exceeding 80 million in a country of 110 million people, GCrypto’s integration into GCash means that nearly every user can now legally purchase cryptocurrency anytime, anywhere. This marks a groundbreaking moment for crypto accessibility in the Philippines, delivered through an app that is a staple on most smartphones. Notably, GCash does not possess its own Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) license. It remains an intriguing question whether GCash will seek to acquire such a license or if their current partnership with PDAX will suffice.
In April this year, GCrypto, the in-app cryptocurrency trading feature of local e-wallet GCash, became available to all users nationwide.
GCrypto is a cryptocurrency trading platform that allows users to buy, sell, and trade 26 different cryptocurrencies. It is powered by the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX), a Philippine-based licensed Virtual Asset Service provider (VASP) and Electronic Money Issuer (EMI).
The in-app crypto platform was being teased to the public as early as 2021 when GCash President Martha Sazon hinted at the possibility of incorporating cryptocurrency into the platform, inspired by PayPal’s move to facilitate crypto transactions. By June 2022, GCash’s Head of New Business, Neil Trinidad, confirmed the development of cryptocurrency products.
In addition, GCash also introduced the “GCrypto NFT Hub,” providing a platform for Filipino artists to exhibit their digital art and enabling users to discover and acquire non-fungible token (NFT) art from local creators.
3. The BLOKC Grassroots Movement
Editor’s note: The work of The BLOKC, though significant, has largely escaped the attention of mainstream media this year. Despite this lack of recognition, the team has persistently continued its efforts. As the crypto market approaches a potential bull run, the impact of The BLOKC’s mentorship of numerous blockchain developers might not be immediately evident but could manifest significantly in the coming years. Whether The BLOKC will receive due recognition for its contributions remains uncertain. However, it seems that the leadership of The BLOKC is undeterred by this prospect, focusing instead on what they are currently doing.
This year, The Blockchain Lead Organization & Knowledge Center (The BLOKC), a blockchain education-focused platform, has initiated programs and partnerships with academic institutions to empower individuals with knowledge to pave the way for a future where blockchain is integral to societal progress.
- The BLOKC organized The UNBLOKC Hackathon 2023 in July, which featured 14 university teams, a team of professional developers, and a mix of students and professionals.
- In the same month, the firm collaborated with the non-profit Solana Foundation to address the talent deficit in the Philippines’ blockchain industry through a series of boot camps.
- It has also formed partnerships with both LPU and Mapua University’s School of Information Technology to enhance blockchain education.
4. BSP CBDC – Project Agila
Editor’s Note: The Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) has been a topic of anticipation since the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) first hinted at it in 2020. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the CBDC’s potential impact will be more on the traditional fiat currency system rather than the broader cryptocurrency landscape. Interestingly, the entities poised to be most affected by the CBDC are the same ones involved in its pilot phase, likely participating to closely monitor and adapt to the impending changes it will bring.
The country’s pilot project for a wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), then known as “Project CBDCPh,” was first revealed in April 2022. The initiative aims to enhance the stability of the Philippines’ payment system.
After its rollout last year with minimal updates, in January 2023, according to then-Governor Felipe Medalla, the pilot test is focusing on wholesale transactions between financial institutions, businesses, and governments.
Consequently, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Currency Policy and Integrity Department Director Eloisa Glindro confirmed that the pilot implementation of the project will run until 2024.
In September, the central bank selected Hyperledger Fabric as the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) for Project CBDCPh—which was now called as Project Agila. The BSP indicated that its selection of Hyperledger Fabric was the result of a comprehensive evaluation process that considered factors such as access, security, availability, interoperability, and programmability. Notably, the BSP referred to Hyperledger as a DLT in its press release, rather than explicitly using the term “blockchain.”
Accordingly, the BSP has announced that it will be collaborating with multiple local financial institutions and fintech firm to test the application of the technology. The project will focus on inter-institutional fund transfers, even during off-business hours.
- CBDC Impact on Crypto in the Philippines | BitPinas Webcast 23
- Mid-year Review: Local Crypto Firms Bullish on NFTs, CBDC, DeFi
- Is CBDC a Step Back? CBDC Impact on Crypto in the Philippines
5. PDAX – Tokenized Treasury Bonds
Editor’s Notes: Instead of listing more tokens, PDAX appears to truly want to be the Philippines’ “digital asset exchange” as it introduced tokenized bonds. This year, PDAX also launched Mintoo, an NFT marketplace, diversifying its services even further. Now, PDAX caters to a wide range of investors: conservative investors have access to bonds, risk-takers can delve into cryptocurrency, and those interested in ownership and perhaps art speculation have Mintoo. This strategic expansion positions PDAX as a versatile platform in the digital asset space.
This November, the Philippine Bureau of Treasury (BTr) approved the sale of tokenized treasury bonds on the blockchain through the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX), as confirmed by its CEO Nichel Gaba.
This move signifies a significant advancement in financial technology, allowing PDAX to offer these tokenized bonds on its platform.
Treasury bonds are fixed-interest government securities, and the BTr plans to issue at least ₱10 billion in one-year tokenized bonds, maturing in November 2024.
While Deputy Treasurer Erwin Sta. Ana mentioned that this is a test run and the regular issuance of tokenized bonds is uncertain, PDAX aims to enhance financial inclusion by introducing bonds as another asset class for investors.
The platform offers a competitive 6.2% indicative interest rate for treasury bonds over three months, with a minimum purchase amount of ₱500.
6. Axie Infinity Classic Relaunch
Editor’s Note: The enduring popularity of Axie Infinity in the Philippines, where its most dedicated players reside, has prompted Sky Mavis to refocus on the classic version of the game. This was very evident in this year’s YGG Web3 Games Summit. Credit should go to the creators who vouch for Axie Classic, and Sky Mavis’ local representatives. While it’s uncertain if this will split Sky Mavis’s attention, their substantial financial reserves should sustain them for many years. This bear market has demonstrated the loyalty of Axie Infinity’s core community, who continue to actively promote and defend the game against critics, highlighting the strong player base support in the Philippines.
Two years after its initial popularity in the country, the blockchain game Axie Infinity has come full circle with the official relaunch of its Classic gameplay, the gameplay that was popularized and triggered the boom of web3 gaming in the Philippines in 2021.
At the YGG Web3 Games Summit, Jeff Zirlin, Co-Founder of Sky Mavis, highlighted the significant role of the Filipino Axie community in bringing back Axie Classic, noting that approximately 10,000 players continued to engage with the game even though there were no rewards.
Moreover, he provided updates to Axie Infinity Classic, renaming it Cursed Coliseum and introducing in-game curses for added strategy. Players can also now earn up to 2,400 Axie Infinity Points (AXP) per Axie daily, with victories rewarding 50 AXP per Axie.
In 2021, it can be remembered that the game was considered a life-saver, as it provided a means for many Filipinos to earn a living when they were left jobless by the pandemic. Since then, the web3 gaming space in the Philippines thrived and expanded; it has resulted in the creation of several web3 gaming guilds, tournaments, and other web3 initiatives.
Despite the bearish market, the game was still celebrated in events over the past 2 years. In June 2022, members of the Axie Community, from players to developers, gathered for the first official Axie Infinity meetup in the Philippines. There were also tournaments such as the Axie Creator Cup, Axie Open Manila 2022, Axie Cabanatuan LAN tournament, and Araw ng Davao Axie Infinity Classic LAN Tournament.
Other Axie Infinity-related initiatives in PH:
- Kookoo Crypto TV Partners with Nas Academy to Teach Axie Infinity Gaming Strategies
- AxieCon Watch Party [Recap]
- Jihoz Acknowledges Axie PH Community as Axie Open Manila 2022 Concludes
- BlockchainSpace Collabs with University of Sydney for Axie Research
- Limitless Guild Bets Big on Axie Infinity V3, Aims 10K Scholars
- YGG Unveils Inaugural SUPERQUEST with NFT Game Axie Infinity
- Axie Infinity Hosts Global Event in Honor of PH Independence
Axie Infinity Guides:
- Comprehensive Axie Infinity Scholarship Guide [English]
- Play to Earn Philippines: Make Money Playing Blockchain Games 101
- How to Play Axie Infinity Origin – Beginner’s Guide
- Axie Infinity Land Gameplay 101 Philippines Guide
- How to Stake AXS in Axie Infinity Ronin
- Ron Token Axie Infinity Guide | How to Farm and Earn Ron with SLP, AXS, WETH, Stake, Add Liquidity Pool on Ronin
- How to Use Axie Infinity’s Katana Dex and Swap AXS, SLP, ETH, USDC in Ronin Sidechain | Philippines Guide
- How to Protect your Ronin Wallet, Axies, and Axie Infinity Account
This article is published on BitPinas: 2023 Year in Review: Six News That Shaped CryptoPH In 2023
- Before investing in any cryptocurrency, it is essential that you carry out your own due diligence and seek appropriate professional advice about your specific position before making any financial decisions.
- BitPinas provides content for informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice. Your actions are solely your own responsibility. This website is not responsible for any losses you may incur, nor will it claim attribution for your gains.