Cryptocurrency, Casino Hub to Rise in Northern Philippines

A Chinese consortium has agreed to develop a freeport in northern Philippines as a casino and cryptocurrency hub.

The Philippine authorities and a Chinese consortium have signed an agreement to establish a preferential economic zone in the northern tip of the Philippines as a “financial technology (fintech) city” that will be home to a cryptocurrency farm, cryptocurrency exchange, blockchain center, and fintech start-up incubators and cryptocurrency exchange.

The agreement signed between the Philippines’ Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and Sinosun Subic Bay Holdings Corp also includes a feasibility study to be commissioned by Sinosun to generate investment opportunities at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port (CSEZFP).

The study should cover opportunities in power generation; railway links; road networks; port expansion and redevelopment; hotels and resorts; and other industrial, agricultural and tourism-related developments, the report said.

Already, Sinosun disclosed that together with its Chinese partner, the China Energy Construction, they would construct a 20-megawatt power plant in Sta. Ana town, Cagayan province this year to provide power to the planned cryptocurrency mining activities.

Sinosun Chairman Samuel Lim said “cryptocurrency farming needs a lot of electricity” for their decision to prioritize power generation activities.

Lim stated:

“[Construction of] the power plant will take about eight months, while the [cryptocurrency] mining farm will take a while, as machines will [have to]be imported. If you order 10,000 mining machines, it will take four months [for them] to arrive.”

Sinosun initially plans to operate about 50,000 cryptocurrency mining machines.

Raul Lambino, CEO and CEZA administrator, said that the choice of the Cagayan Freeport is a logical decision for Sinosun and its partner because of its proximity to Taiwan, as well as the town’s natural beauty. He added: "Cagayan already has a natural beauty that is hard to resist. What we need to show is that the free port can be an investment jewel in Southeast and East Asia.”

Locals in Sta. Ana, Cagayan often jokes they can hear the roosters crows from Taiwan because of the town’s geographical closeness with Taipei.

Sta. Ana hosts several casinos that are operated by Chinese investors.

Philippines as Crypto-Friendly Regime

The Philippines has been considered by the blockchain community as a digital currency-friendly regime.

Late last month, the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Emilio Aquino said the market regulator is not keen on issuing an outright ban on initial coin offerings as he affirmed the nation’s philosophy that technology can benefit the public when used appropriately.

But he said authorities would go after bad actors in the industry, including companies or individuals who “take advantage” of the blockchain technology for illegal activities.

Manila’s hosting of the first leg of the Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference is a recognition of the country’s pioneering efforts in cryptocurrency regulations, Smile-Expo, organizer of the event said. The Philippines is amongst the first countries in Asia to address the growing demand in the virtual currency space.