Manila, the capital of the Philippines, on Thursday hosted the inaugural Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference. The event, held at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel, is the first in a series of conferences that will take place across 14 countries through May this year and focuses specifically on cryptocurrency, blockchain, and initial coin offerings (ICOs).
Event organizer Smile-Expo said the Philippines was chosen to host the first of these conferences in recognition of its pioneering efforts in digital asset regulations. The Philippines is the first country in Asia to address the growing demand in the digital currency space.
The central bank, the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas, issued Circular No. 944 in February 2017, recognizing “that virtual currency (VC) systems have the potential to revolutionize delivery of financial services, particularly for payments and remittance, in view of their ability to provide faster and more economical transfer of funds, both domestic and international, and may further support financial inclusion.”
In addition, the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission announced in November that it might treat Bitcoin and other digital assets as securities, thus potentially placing them under the current regulatory framework.
"The direction is for us to consider this so-called virtual currencies offerings as possible securities in which case we will apply the Securities Regulation Code," said SEC Commissioner Emilio Aquino.
Various Blockchain Applications
During the conference, the speakers discussed the many applications for blockchain, going beyond the obvious ones in the financial sector. These include manufacturing, supply chain, decentralized ecosystems, e-commerce, the transformation of customers into shareholders, and cryptocurrency remittances, among others.
All participants in the conference are cryptocurrency experts from across the globe, including representatives of the banking industry, software developers, financial institutions, entrepreneurs, individual and institutional investors, lawyers, startups, blockchain solution developers, and professional traders.
Governments Should Keep Out of Blockchain Regulations
While all participants acknowledged there should be rules and regulations to guide the “self-governing” and decentralized blockchain space, not all of them agreed on the level of oversight, especially with regard to government participation.
Some said government should enforce “limited” and “appropriate” rules to protect investors against scams and illegal activities, as well as prevent tax evasion and money laundering.
However, the purists insisted that governments should stay out of any regulations on blockchain technology because “they will only ruin it.”