The central bank of the Philippines has released new guidelines for bitcoin exchanges operating in the country.
The move comes months after officials for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) signaled their intention to regulate exchanges, suggesting at the time that they would class the businesses as a form of remittance company.
Under guidelines inked on 16th January and published today, "entities" that offer exchange services will be required to apply for a Certificate of Registration. Exchanges will also need to register with the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Council Secretariat, the document shows, and while currently unspecified, exchanges will also be subject to "registration and annual fee services".
In statements, the central bank positioned the regulations from the perspective of anti-money laundering and financial stability, echoing a 2014 warning it issued about digital currencies.
The BSP said:
"The Bangko Sentral does not intend to endorse any [virtual currency], 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 [virtual currencies] 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."
Mirroring other regulatory approaches, domestic exchanges are now subject to annual and quarterly reporting requirements. The central bank is applying reporting penalties to exchanges.
Further, the BSP document outlines security criteria exchanges in the Philippines must follow.
"For VC exchanges providing wallet services for holding, storing and transferring VCs, an effective cybersecurity program encompassing storage and transaction security requirements as well as sound key management practices must be established to ensure the integrity and security of VC transactions and wallets," the central bank said.
The full BSP guidelines can be found below:
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