CEZA awards first cryptocurrency exchange license to HK firm

By Kris Crismundo

July 10, 2018, 7:34 pm

MANILA -- Hong Kong-based Golden Millennial Quickpay Inc. Ltd. (GMQ) has launched its cryptocurrency exchange and financial technology solutions business in the Philippines after securing its license from Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).

On the sidelines of the 2018 GMQ Global Blockchain Summit Philippines in Pasay City Tuesday, CEZA Corporate Board Secretary Catherine Joy Alameda told reporters that GMQ is the first licensee for financial technology solutions and offshore virtual currency (FTSOVC) operation under the economic zone.

Alameda said GMQ will be locating at LR Data, a CEZA locator in Sta. Ana, Cagayan.

The company is also expected to hire around 500 personnel, particularly blockchain programmers. GMQ will be bringing in its foreign employees for technical support and to give trainings on blockchain technology.

Blockchain, originally developed as the accounting method for cryptocurrency, is a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all transactions. It allows participants to keep track of all digital currency transactions even without central record-keeping.

The technology is used to verify transactions and creates an indelible and unchangeable record. Under it, the transaction’s authenticity can be verified by the entire participants instead of a centralized authority.

Earlier, CEZA Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Raul Lambino said the investment promotion agency (IPA) would only issue 25 FTSOVC licenses.

These companies are authorized to issue at least four regular licenses under them.

Currently, GMQ’s license is provisional and is valid for six months. The company will be able to acquire its permanent license when it is able to fully comply with the requirements of CEZA, according to Alameda.

CEZA requires each cryptocurrency exchange to invest at least USD1 million in a period of two years and must put up a back office in the Philippines.

Moreover, CEZA Senior Deputy Administrator Raymundo Roquero said the IPA would be issuing more licenses to cryptocurrency exchange operators in the coming months.

Roquero said CEZA received 70 applications, to date, while six of those firms have paid for their licenses.

A principal license for FTSOVC operation under CEZA is priced USD360,000, while a regular license is at USD85,000.

Roquero said CEZA is expected to earn PHP3.6 billion from the issuance of licenses. On top of this, CEZA has 0.1 percent share in each transaction of the registered virtual currency exchanges.

Only last May, CEZA has positioned to be the fintech hub for the country. A USD100-million fintech facility is being committed to construct the fintech hub in Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport.

“Our goal is to push the logical progression of these technologies into the mainstream, so that transactions that are mediated by them will be fail-state, will be secured, and will be easier and faster,” Lambino said in his speech during the blockchain summit.

“We will have state-of-the art technology to lessen the risks of online transactions, and also to prevent unlawful activities such as money-laundering and funding for extremist objectives,” he added. (PNA)