Virtual currency transactions in the Philippines now average over $8 million per month, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said.
“For the first half of the year, the transactions are about $8.8 million on the average per month,” said Melchor Plabasan, deputy director and head of the central bank’s Core Information Technology Specialist Group.
Plabasan told reporters that the data was based on the activities of two bitcoin exchanges earlier allowed to operate by the Bangko Sentral.
Described as “local-based” with “international roots,” the two bitcoin exchanges were identified as Rebittance Inc. and Betur Inc., also known as coins.ph.
Moving forward, Plabasan said 12 virtual currency exchange applications remain pending with the central bank.
“Eight of the 12 are completing the requirements while the remaining four had completed the presentation of their business model,” he said.
Given the increasing popularity of virtual currencies, Plabasan said regulators would be issuing an advisory to the general public.
“We also recognize that there are a lot of pyramid schemes right now disguised as investment channels. We will also advise the general public to be wary of these types of institutions,” he added
Consumers will also be told to only deal with entities registered with the BSP.
The Bangko Sentral earlier this year moved to regulate virtual currency transactions, in January issuing Circular 944 that set guidelines for the operation of virtual currency exchanges.
The central bank said it was not endorsing any virtual currency but wanted to regulate their use for payments and remittances, at the same time limiting money laundering and terrorist financing risks.
Virtual currency exchanges were required to register with the BSP and the Anti Money Laundering Council and submit periodic reports regarding transactions and their finances.