Cagayan ecozone eyes crypto boom, issues first set of licenses

After becoming a hub for offshore-based online gaming, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) is now setting its sights on the booming crypto-currency business after issuing the first batch of licenses to virtual currency exchange firms in its ecozone in Sta. Ana, Cagayan.

CEZA administrator Raul L. Lambino speaks during the GMQ Global Blockchain Summit

CEZA awarded the Financial Technology Solutions and Offshore Virtual Currency (FTSOVC) to Hong Kong-based Golden Millennial Quickpay (GMQ) during the GMQ Global Blockchain Summit held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel this week in Pasay City.

Around 100 Chinese blockchain and cryptocrrency related firms, industry experts, and business partners from the government and private sectors joined the summit.

This developed after CEZA administrator Raul L. Lambino announced nine week ago the agency’s intention to become a fintech (financial technology) haven. Since then, 80 fintech locators have applied with CEZA.

GMQ from Hong Kong is one of the first companies to respond to the invitation of CEZA to invest and be part of the pioneering fintechs to locate at the ecozone.

The goal, according to Lambino, is to spur economic development at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP).

Earlier, Lambino said they will issue licence initially to only 25 exchanges which applied as locators with CEZA. Every one of the cryptocurrency exchanges, he said, was required to put in an initial investment worth $1 million payable in two years time.

CEZA’s efforts to push the Philippines to become the “Silicon Valley” of Asia has been attracting a lot of attention, as shown by the holding of a series of blockchain summits with the agency’s involvement.

Lambino, in one of the earlier events dubbed the Global Blockchain Summit and Inaugural Blockchain Application Exhibition on June 24, expressed confidence on the emerging technology’s economic impact to the Philippines and its citizens.

“Actually, we are going to make money because we are going to charge them for occupying the spaces we constructed,” he pointed out.

In his speech at the summit, Lambino noted the historic official launch of the cryptocurrency exchange and fintech solutions business of GMQ.

“GMQ is a pioneer in CEZA’s venture to establish a financial technology ad offshore virtual currency exchange business, which will eventually form the nucleus of the CEZA Fintech Hub,” said Lambino.

Ray Roquero, CEZA senior deputy administrator, said two other fintech firms, Ultra Precise Investments Ltd. from Bangkok, Thailand, and Liannet Technology Limited from Hong Kong also received their FTSOVC licenses from the CEZA.

The exchanges that already signed up with CEZA included Xin Peng Group, Changwei International Co., Ltd., State Trust Union Capital Holdings, Ultra Precise Investments Ltd., Hachiman Technology Sdn. Bhd., MX Exchange Ventures, Hybrid Block, IPE Global Pte. Ltd., Superieur Tech. Pte. Ltd., Coin Bundle, Northern Orient Resources, Inc., Asia Premier International Ltd., Hong Kong Yuen Shing Hong Ltd., Mobile Pole Position Pte. Ltd., Madison Blockchain Strategy Investment Company Ltd., GMQ, Liannet, Asia Pacific Blockchain Association, Pacificnet Strategic Investments Ltd., Super Angels Ventures Ltd., AXN Holdings Ltd., Paradigm Technologies Unlimited Solutions Corp., Stepwyze LLC.

The Hanwha Group of South Korea, a blockchain developer, also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CEZA.

Roquero said the buzz surrounding the blockchain investment is the result of CEZA’s intensified efforts ” promote this new technology, which is considered as the future of banking/financial transactions in the world.”

He said that “practically the whole of Asia is looking towards the Philippines to invest in this new venture. We call this ‘A New Venture in the Valley Unfolds’ because Cagayan is know for its valleys and hills.”

Roquero said CEZA is the “perfect venue” for the fintech firms who prefer a quite place, which Cagayan offers. He assured that no fly-by-night companies will be accepted as CEZA is painstakingly screening the applicants. “We only need the established ones so we can avoid scams.”

Easter Samar Rep. Ben E. Evardone cited CEZA for its initiative to be at the middle of the fintech revolution. “I am glad that they are prioritizing this industry that will revolutionize financial transactions worldwide,” he said.

Pasay City Rep. Imelda “Emmie” Calixto-Rubiano welcomed the delegates from abroad and the Philippines to the summit.

She assured support for CEZA and the fintech companies locating in the country, saying they can rely on her if they need any help, as well as from the House of Representatives.

Evardone noted that only two out of 10 households in the country have access to banking services – a major reason why the blockchain technology offers huge potentials for financial inclusion of over 90 percent of Filipinos.

Roquero made clear the licenses issued to the first three exchanges are only “provisional” and it will be monitored closely by CEZA.

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