THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking at banning unregistered cryptocurrency and online trading platforms to protect investors.

In a statement on Tuesday, SEC Commissioner Kelvin Lester K. Lee said several unregistered platforms for cryptocurrency and online trading would soon be the subject of advisories by the corporate regulator, even banning them from operating in the country. 

“First and foremost, the SEC has to protect the credibility of our markets—and this can only happen if it is assiduous in efforts to secure investors against potential and actual harm. Part of these efforts is to be strict in the agency’s regulatory function: we only allow entities, whether local or foreign, to operate in the Philippines once they are registered with the SEC or other Philippine regulators,” Mr. Lee said.

“Allowing unregistered entities to operate only increases investors’ exposure to risk; and normal, everyday business already has risks. Let’s not add to that,” he added. 

Aside from stricter enforcement, Mr. Lee said the SEC is also embarking on a campaign to have 300 publicly listed companies (PLCs) in the local stock market by 2025 as part of its “Project 300” initiative. 

Currently, the local bourse has 284 PLCs. 

“In the case of PLCs, the Philippines has around 280-285 PLCs while Vietnam, for example, has about 400 or 400 plus. Now, it is not simply a matter of competing with other countries on the number of PLCs and IPOs (initial public offerings). Increasing the number of PLCs and IPOs is a booster for our economy,” Mr. Lee said. 

“Our initial goal is the listing of 15 offerings (IPOs) [in the] near term. This year, three companies have already expressed interest in filing IPOs with the support and encouragement of the SEC,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Lee said more PLCs and IPOs allow more businesses to have access to capital and investments in the form of bonds and securities.

He added that the SEC is in talks with the Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc. to reduce the broker’s fee or commission for IPO processing. 

The SEC has committed to complete IPO registration within 45 days while reducing the required financial information submitted by IPO applicants to cover three years from four years.

“When there is more capital and wealth to go around, the more resources there are for both the government and the private sector to invest in the country’s economic and social development. Even individual investors have more chances to invest and earn from dividends,” Mr. Lee said.

“Increasing the number of PLCs and IPOs is a booster for our economy. Simply put, it’s a builder of wealth and capital,” he said, adding that the “ripple effect” provides advantages to businesses because they have more access to capital and investments via bonds and securities.

“Having more PLCs and IPOs also impacts good governance and social development,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave