Two new digital currency exchanges have been accredited by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). The Deputy Governor of the BSP Chuchi G. Fonacier has announced that Philippines, Inc. and ETranss have now been authorized as exchanges, allowing them to convert pesos into virtual currencies.
This brings the number of approved exchanges to five, alongside Rebittance, Inc. and Betur, Inc. (better known as Coins.ph) and BloomSolutions.
The BSP has recognized the benefits of using electronic currencies in terms of faster and cheaper remittances. However, it has previously been cautious given the risks of rapidly changing values, the potential use of virtual currencies for crime, and cybersecurity concerns.
A report by local news outlet Business World says conversions from the peso to digital currencies have grown exponentially over the past few years. In the first quarter, amounts averaged $36m per month covering transactions from two registered exchanges.
Amid the buoyant activity, the Anti-Money Laundering Council has said it will start looking more at virtual currency transactions as part of its wider scrutiny and regulation of the market.
The Philippine authorities had also previously considered whether exchanges should register as e-money issuers because they offer wallet services, however, it has now ruled out this action in efforts to keep the registration process simple for new players.
Last year, the BSP officially recognized Bitcoin as a legitimate payment method. In February, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), a free zone entity, implemented regulations allowing cryptocurrency players to operate in the region.