Manila skyline, Philippines

Bitcoin exchanges in the Philippines may soon face tougher regulations

According to an updated story from Reuters, the Philippine Central Bank is looking to regulate bitcoin operators to help combat money laundering; this list includes bitcoin exchanges, brokers,  remittance companies, and money transmitters in the Philippines.

In light of the recent SWIFT hacks, Reuters reports:

The Philippine central bank has set up a separate cyber security surveillance division to craft cyber security policies and conduct surveillance work, monitor cyber threats and test the ability of supervised institutions to manage cyber security issues, Nestor Espenilla central bank deputy governor in charge of banking supervision, said in a lecture organised by the bank.

The article says that bitcoin volume has “doubled” in the Philippines last year, and that “bitcoin transactions purportedly passing through registered companies in the country range from $2 million to $3 million per month based on available estimates.”

In a case where a remittance company was attempting to obtain a license with the Philippine Central Bank, it had revoked the license because the company was used to transfer some of the $81 million that was hacked from the Bangladesh Central Bank.

The Philippines is home to at least one active bitcoin exchange, BuyBitcoin.ph. There have been other exchanges in the country which are now defunct.

The increase in volume may be attributed to local traders, typically done on over-the-counter type of exchanges such as LocalBitcoins. In the chart below from Coin.Dance, you can see recent weekly LocalBitcoins volume in the country increasing.

phillipines-local-bitcoins-volume-2016

The number of bitcoin transactions across the board globally has seen an uptick in volume, and there is no discernible correlation between the Philippines bitcoin traffic and money laundering.

In Japan, government officials are going to be introducing new regulations for exchange operators to register with the Financial Services Agency (FSA), however for reasons more related to the Mt. Gox collapse.

In the United Kingdom, the UK Treasury said that they plan to bring bitcoin exchange companies  “into anti-money laundering regulation,” reinforcing plans they announced last year.