Poe says lawmakers 'not in a rush' to pass fintech bill

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe said lawmakers are not keen on rushing a measure that would legalize financial technology and digital assets such as cryptocurrency.

"It's a very complicated matter. In fact, lawmakers should really not rush into drafting a law regarding this. We still have to learn a lot of things, particularly when it comes to financial technology and digital assets," Poe said on Monday, September 23, after a hearing by the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions, and currencies.

"To most of our countrymen, this is alien to them, but in fact some of them have been availing of it through online lending. And without the proper information and education, a lot of them are actually victimized," Poe added.

Why does this matter? Forms of cryptocurrency, or digital currencies, grew into prominence when Bitcoin's value surged in 2017, and eventually broke above the $10,000 mark (P500,000).

With no legal exchange rate and no central bank behind cryptocurrency, risks are often associated with it, as its value often fluctuates. (READ: Filipino couple amasses at least P900M in alleged Bitcoin scam)

But some virtual currencies are stable, such as UnionBank's cryptocurrency, which is backed by actual bank account deposits.

These currencies are used virtually to pay for goods and services.

At the hearing, Senator Francis Tolentino said regulators should "slow down" and study the "unfathomed" field.

What can be done? Senators recommended on Monday that a task force be created to study the field. This would be composed of the following agencies:

Tolentino also suggested that the Department of Labor and Employment be included in the task force as well, if there are concerns that involve overseas Filipino workers.

According to SEC Commissioner Luis Amatong, the commission is set to promulgate new rules that would require firms with digital offerings to be registered and be under regulatory scrutiny, especially if it has investment-taking schemes.

"Before we fall prey into this, as I've said, the BSP and the SEC already agreed to have a regular discussion so that they can come up with actual suggestions for legislation because we are not experts in this," Poe said in an interview.

"We need people who are really knowledgeable, otherwise we might create more problems as opposed to rectifying the situation," she added. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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