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JAN 3, 2024

Philippine central bank tightens rules on crypto transfers

by CoinNess Global

In a move to enhance the oversight of cross-border wire transfers involving virtual assets, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the central bank of the Philippines, is fortifying the implementation of regulations relative to crypto transfers.

Travel rule clarifications

Local news outlet, the English language newspaper The Philippine Star reported that central bank memorandum 2023-042 provides clarifications on the travel rule for virtual asset service providers (VASPs). The travel rule requires financial institutions to pass on information to the next institution where a transaction takes place.
The BSP aims to bring greater clarity to several aspects, including the applicability of the P50,000 transaction threshold and expectations regarding transactions involving jurisdictions without travel rules. Additionally, further interpretation is being provided concerning the extension of the Philippine travel rule to non-custodial VASPs and regulatory expectations surrounding transactions with unhosted wallets or crypto wallets controlled directly by their owners, rather than managed by third-party service providers.

FATF compliance ambition

This regulatory move is in response to the directives from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In 2021 the Philippines came under greater scrutiny from the intergovernmental organization, when it was included on its "gray list," making it a candidate for increased monitoring.
The FATF has called upon the Philippines to establish guidelines for the travel rule to prevent terrorists and criminals from exploiting virtual asset transfers for the unrestricted movement of their assets and to detect and prevent misuse effectively.
BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) are now mandated to scrutinize specific details of virtual asset transfers, including the originator's name, account number used in the transaction, originator's physical address or national identity and the beneficiary's name and account number.

International moves towards compliance

This latest move by the Philippine central bank is not unusual. In recent months, a plethora of similarly motivated central banks around the world have tightened up on crypto regulation as it relates to the FATF directives.
Being on the FATF's "gray list" is bad for a country’s reputation. It has the potential to result in loss of investor confidence and lead to higher compliance costs and greater monitoring. Additionally, it may have an impact on trade relations and damage a country’s ability to access international finance.  Turkey has also found itself on the organization’s gray list. Working towards repairing that situation, Turkey is in the process of establishing a crypto regulatory framework that will be FATF compliant.
In May, Pakistan went a step further in banning cryptocurrency. At the time, its Minister of State for Finance and Revenue, Aisha Ghaus Pasha, stated that the ban had been a requirement for Pakistan’s removal from the FATF gray list.
A tightening of crypto regulations has also occurred in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and in Hong Kong more recently, as those territories work towards ensuring FATF compliance.
The BSP emphasizes that transactions not surpassing the P50,000 threshold or its equivalent in foreign currency must include the names and account numbers of both the originator and beneficiary. Both originating and beneficiary VASPs are required to establish and adhere to robust sanction screening procedures, ensuring compliance with sanctions lists and preventing transactions involving sanctioned individuals, entities, or jurisdictions.
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