“The new license allows Coins to accept and hold customer funds, and extend the functionality of its online and offline payment services,” it explained. “The company already has a very active customer base using its existing payments, remittance, air-time and bill-pay services.”
The move represents a sharp policy turnaround for the Philippine banking regulator. Many central banks are wary of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies because these were not created by monetary authorities, and the BSP is no exception. In 2014, it issued a circular warning the public how exchanges using cryptocurrencies are unregulated and “may be used for money laundering and other illicit activities.”
The BSP started to soften its cautious attitude towards Bitcoin and other digital currencies early this year when it issued Circular No. 944, which recognized their benefits for easing payments and money transfers. It outlined broad regulations for businesses that want to operate as virtual currency exchanges.
The BSP has long been issuing EMI licenses to banks and other financial institutions subject to its regulatory authority. It also granted EMI licenses to
The EMI license issued to Coins.ph is the first to be granted to a Bitcoin-enabled
“This license reflects our ongoing commitment to ensure Coins’ customers can store their funds in a safe and secure e-wallet that they can trust,” Coins CEO Ron Hose said in a statement.
The central bank issued guidelines on the issuance of electronic money way back in February 2009. The guidelines, outlined in Circular No. 649, defined e-money as any monetary value represented by a claim on its issuer that meets the following requirements: a) electronically stored in an instrument or device; b) issued against a receipt of fund of an amount not lesser than the monetary value issue; c) accepted as means of payment by persons or entities other than the issuer; d) withdrawable in cash or cash equivalent; and e) issued in accordance with BSP regulations. The electronic instruments or devices refer to cash cards, e-wallets accessible via mobile phones or other similar devices, stored value cards and other similar products.
Founded in 2014, Coins gives its users access to a wide array of financial services like remittances, bill payments, and online shopping through a mobile application. Like most
But what makes it stand out from the rest is all of its services are powered by Bitcoin, making it one of the first startups in Southeast Asia to use blockchain technology. The startup now has over two million users and has since expanded to Thailand.
“Coins wants to make financial services easily accessible to anyone, anywhere, via their mobile phone. Receiving this license is an important milestone towards extending the ecosystem of services available to our customers,” Coins Head of Business Operations Justin Leow said in a statement.
Elyssa Christine Lopez and Lorenzo Kyle Subido are staff writers of Entrepreneur.com.ph.
*This story originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.ph
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors