The Philippines is catching up to Japan with a growing number of approved cryptocurrency exchanges.

The central bank has green-lighted 10 crypto exchanges so far. Meanwhile, one of the country’s largest banks now has a bitcoin ATM at one of its main branches.

In addition, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority has independently licensed 24 crypto exchanges.

10 Legal Crypto Exchanges

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has approved 10 cryptocurrency exchanges in total, according to the most recent list provided by the central bank. Three of them were recently added, the Manila Times reported Monday.

Melchor T. Plabasan, the officer in charge at the Technology Risk and Innovation Supervision Department of the central bank, said the latest crypto exchange operators authorized were Bexpress Inc., Coinvillel Phils Inc., and Aba Global Philippines Inc.

The most recent list of remittance and transfer companies with money changing or foreign exchange dealing as well as virtual currency exchange service provided by the central bank comprises 10 businesses.

Besides the three new additions, the seven others are Betur Inc. dba Coins.ph, Remittance Inc., Bloomsolutions Inc., Virtual Currency Philippines Inc., Etranss Remittance International Corp., Fyntegrate Inc., and Zybi Tech Inc.

In comparison, Japan’s top financial regulator recently registered two new crypto exchanges, bringing the total of approved exchanges in the country to 19.

Furthermore, the regulator has told news.Bitcoin.com that over 140 more companies have expressed interest in operating crypto exchanges in Japan.

1 Out Of 10 Adults In The Philippines Use Crypto

In recent years, the Philippines has grown into a powerhouse of a market for cryptocurrency businesses primarily due to favorable regulations and the rapid growth of local companies.

Coins.ph, for instance, the biggest crypto exchange in Southeast Asia, is said to have 1 out of 10 adults in the Philippines as users, a statistic that convinced the leading ride-hailing app operator in Indonesia Go Jeb to acquire the company.

Dan Morehead, the CEO of Pantera Capital, the first billion-dollar cryptocurrency fund and an investor in Coins.ph, previously said:

A week or so ago, we announced that we sold Coins.ph in the Philippines and I think that is a great example of Bitcoin’s actual usage now and not 20 years from now. They have one out of ten adults in the Philippines as a customer. That’s very real. I think it is important for the community to really know that there are applications that are working right now.

Ever since the Philippines legitimized cryptocurrencies like bitcoin as a remittance method in February 2017 through an official circular issued by the central bank of the Philippines, the Philippine cryptocurrency sector has been maturing at a rapid rate.

Bitcoin ATM At A Major Bank

Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP) aka Unionbank, one of the largest banks in the country, recently installed a bitcoin ATM at one of its main branches, with the approval of the central bank and in partnership with Coins.ph. Last month, the bank announced that this ATM is now operational.

News.Bitcoin.com talked to a representative of the bank who explained that the machine can only be used to buy and sell BTC currently. Noting that the “ATM is located in the Ark Makati and can only be accessed during Ark branch hours,” the representative elaborated:

When they sell their bitcoin, users will be able to withdraw the money they made in the transaction from the ATM directly. You have to be a UBP account holder and have a crypto wallet (like Coinsph), users who do not have a UBP account can open one in the Ark where the ATM is located.

The BSP issued Memorandum 2019-006 on March 14 reminding banks that operators of cryptocurrency ATMs are considered virtual currency exchanges and must be registered with the bank, as mandated in Circular No. 944 dated Feb. 6, 2017.

According to Business World, Unionbank CEO Edwin R. Bautista said the bank plans to add more crypto ATMs in more branches, with the approval of the BSP. The bank currently has about 300 branches.

Ceza Has Issued 24 Licenses

Instead of obtaining a license from the central bank, crypto exchanges can obtain offshore licenses from the government-owned Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) which has independently been approving a number of crypto exchanges.

Ceza CEO Raul Lambino said last month that “24 principal licenses and six regular licenses for cryptocurrency exchanges” have been issued, “as well as four licenses for 15 companies involved in financial technology solutions.”

However, unlike the harder-to-obtain BSP license, the Financial Technology Solutions and Offshore Virtual Currency (Ftsovc) license issued by Ceza comes with several restrictions.

According to Bitpinas news outlet, this license allows exchanges to “run the business in the Philippines but must only service users from outside the country.”

The publication further explained that “This license allows the company to do crypto-to-crypto transactions but does not allow the company to facilitate crypto-to-fiat transactions as that is a separate license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.”

This story originally appeared in Bitcoin. Image courtesy of Charles Deluvio/Unsplash.

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