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BSP hands off on Calata’s digital currency plan

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REGULATORS SAID it is up to shareholders if they would accept Calata Corp.’s plan to exchange its shares for digital currencies.

In an interview with reporters late Monday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier explained central bank regulations cover the use of exchanges for virtual currencies (VCs), not the conversion itself.

“The issuance (of VCs) per se is not covered. If you are a depositor and then you want to speculate, bahala ka (it’s up to you), it’s your own… yun ang wina-warn namin. Wala kang pwedeng singilin (That’s our warning. There’s no one you can collect from),” Ms. Fonacier said.

Calata last Monday unveiled plans to exchange the company’s shares for VCs, dubbed as CalCoins. This comes amid the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)’s imposition of involuntary delisting procedures on the company, which the bourse found to have violated multiple disclosure rules.

Since the company would be unable to conduct a tender offer to its shareholders, Calata Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joseph H. Calata is giving them the option to instead trade their shares on the global digital currencies market. This would allow them to trade with other VCs such as bitcoin, ethereum, and ripple.

Sought for comment if the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has jurisdiction over Calata’s plan, SEC Chairperson Teresita J. Herbosa noted the central bank has regulations on this type of securities.




“The BSP registers digital currency exchanges,” Ms. Herbosa said in a text message.

The central bank issued last August Circular 944, which requires virtual currency providers to be under their watch. It further said that platforms converting digital currencies to cash must be accredited by the BSP. Such platforms must also adhere to existing rules imposed on remittance agents, which includes reports of potential dirty money transactions.

Basta yung VC exchange na nire-regulate namin na kino-cover ng Circular 944. Doon yung activity. Pag outside of that, yun yung hindi naco-cover ng regulations. (The VC exchange that we regulate is covered by Circular 944. That’s where the activity is. Outside of that, those are not covered by regulations),” Ms. Fonacier said.

Mr. Calata is banking on the value growth of other VCs to entice shareholders into approving his strategy, citing bitcoins an example.

Mr. Calata still has to gain shareholder approval in a meeting to be held before yearend before turning the company’s shares into VCs. Should shareholders disagree, the company explained that the shares would be held as in a private firm, wherein investors would just wait for dividends. – Arra B. Francia and Melissa Luz T. Lopez

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