The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has had a long history of licensing and regulating gambling operations, but they’ve recently taken on the responsibility of cryptocurrency oversight as well. To talk about how they’re approaching that industry, and how it relates to their gambling experience, Sec. Raul Lambino, Chief Executive of CEZA, joined CalvinAyre.com’s Stephanie Tower at the recent ASEAN Gaming Summit 2019.
Digital currency regulation is a fairly new responsibility for CEZA, but they’ve taken to it quickly and have generated results for the Philippines. “Well this all started sometime March last year, so it’s practically a year old now, and we were able to come up with our financial technology solutions and offshore virtual currency exchange rules and regulations,” Lambino said. “Today, CEZA has already approved about 24 principal licenses. The principal licenses have committed to put up investment commitment of at least $1 million for physical facilities that they are going to put up inside the freeport zone in Cagayan. And we also have at least six regular licenses that are going to operate their exchange inside CEZA.”
As a gambling regulator, CEZA had to quickly adapt to address blockchain based financial systems, and they did so by looking to experts and abroad. “I do believe that this is more sustainable, this is the future, and this could provide more job opportunities for our people, more particularly the young Filipinos,” he explained. “We have consulted the experts on financial technology, bankers, lawyers. We have studied the different rules and regulations all over the world, United States, Japan, Korea, Europe, Singapore, and we tried to take a look at what the existing laws of the Philippines would allow us to do. Very luckily, indeed for us in CEZA, have been backed up by young talented experts in law, in accountancy, in banking.”
As CEZA is in a unique position to regulate both cryptocurrencies and gambling operators, they are now looking into how they can make the two industries work better together. “We are now studying the possibility of using blockchain platform into one of our main industry, that is gaming,” Lambino noted. “Because CEZA is also a jurisdiction that is authorized by law to issue licenses both in online gaming operations and land based casino operations.”
As a new technology, Lambino understands that cryptocurrencies might scare some, but he believes they will improve business in the long run. “It is going to help streamline our operations…Some say this is going to cut corners, true indeed, but that is what a business is all about,” he explained. “The lesser the obstacles to hurdle, the lesser the red tape, the better for business. And certainly, this is going to contribute to good government, transparency, etc. “