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BSP to require EMI license for some VC operators

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By Lee C. Chipongian

Virtual Currency (VC) Exchange firms with plans to offer a variation of e-money transactions will be required to apply for an electronic money issuer (EMI) license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), according to a senior official.

BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier said they are currently reviewing and assessing at least 30 applicants for VC Exchange registration, however based on the business models submitted by a number of these companies, there is a requirement to hold or maintain “e-wallets” which is a digital currency such as VCs and transacted online. The offer of e-wallets will re-categorize VC Exchanges and no longer fall in line in the simplified BSP rules, said Fonacier.

The BSP since February last year registers VC Exchanges as “companies or businesses engaged in changing VCs into fiat currency (and vice versa)” and the act of converting VCs into Philippine money can facilitate payments and remittances. As such, VC Exchanges are registered as remittance and transfer companies in the BSP.

Fonacier said granting the EMI license to VC operators will depend on the type of business model they will propose to the central bank. If an e-wallet is part of the proposal, this will require a BSP license. To apply for an EMI license, the BSP will require a capital base of P100 million to P150 million.

“In that space, the BSP again will become a pioneer because – not just in the VC Exchanges, but there will be a parallel license required from them. It would depend on the kind of business model they will put forward,” said Fonacier.

Of the 30 currently applying for VC Exchanges registration with the BSP, Fonacier said there are a number proposing business models that will require another layer of transaction that will “make an exchange that are not just an exchange from fiat to currency (VCs).”

“We are trying to communicate to the applicants and clarify their business models right now,” said Fonacier, and whether or not the business models presented will require another license. “If they like the original proposition they presented to us then this might need a license. (But) they can always revert to a simple business model that will require only registration.”

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