THE Philippine government continues to push the possibilities and potentials of the digital age, the 4th Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) as more blockchain-powered offshore companies get license.
Below is a news story from CEZA, sent by media specialist Joseph Muego, veteran photo-journalist:
The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), in Sta. Ana, Cagayan province, formally welcomed Hong Kong-based Asia Premier International Limited (APIL) as one of the 17 offshore fintech firm locators of CEZA.
 On Friday, October 26, Secretary Raul L. Lambino, CEZA administrator and CEO, handed over to APIL Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Fu Kong Sang his firm’s offshore virtual currency exchange (OVCE) provisional principal license.
The handover was held during the APIL NiuEx Exchange Launching attended by hundreds of foreign and local blockchain and cryptocurrency leaders and enthusiasts, Philippine government officials, and other guests.
“Today, we formally welcoming Asia Premier International Limited as a member of the Crypto Valley of Asia, CEZA’s premier hub for the development of digital token exchanges and blockchain based technologies,” the CEZA head told the full-packed Grand Ballroom of Manila Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.
Joseph Muego photo
OVCE LICENSE. Secretary Raul L. Lambino, CEZA administrator and CEO, shakes hands with Alexander Fu Kong Sang as he hands over the OVCE license. (Photo: Joseph Muego)
Among other APIL executives present included Chief Operating Officer (COO) Amando V. Jimenez, Vice Chairman Cao Shao Xiong, Fu Yanyl, Alvin Young, and their Niu Exchange partners Engle Ke.
Jimenez, on behalf of APIL’s Board of Directors, thanked Lambino, whom he called “our mentor.”
The APIL COO related the journey of the Hong Kong-based fintech firm leading to becoming a CEZA locator.
OVCE license and probity & integrity check
“It certainly was not easy getting a license to operate an Offshore Virtual Currency Exchange. We had to go through very rigorous pre-screening requirements and PROBITY CHECK. The VOLUMINOUS pages we needed to submit — reached from floor to ceiling,” said Jimenez, apparently referring to CEZA’s stringent “probity and integrity check” to prevent and keep out crypto firms engaging in scams.
“But it was all worth it, as we were granted the license we needed. We are the 7th OVCE/Offshore Virtual Currency Exchange PRINCIPAL LICENSE HOLDER in the Philippines,” he said in obvious relief.
“We are now more than ready to CONNECT with the CEZA PLATFORM thru the CEZA FINTECH HUB at the Bonifacion Global City (Taguig City,” Jimenez said.
Asia Premier, he pointed out, takes pride and honor to be a locator at the booming CSEZFP, saying the license from CEZA enables APIL to run its blockchain operations in the Philippines although his company will only be serving overseas markets.
Last month, Lambino said Filipinos will not be allowed to engage in participate in the cryptocurrency operations of the CEZA offshore fintech locators.
Jimenez said APIL’s OVCE license will “allow its partners in the global blockchain industry, NiuEx Exchange to undertake crypto to crypto transactions. We look forward to a bullish market and a successful partnership with all our participants.”
Lambino said that as of July this year, 70 fintech (financial technology) locators applied with CEZA to become pioneers of the country’s fintech industry that CEZA decided to build with approval from President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
CEZA manages the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) which will provide a safe haven for the blockchain companies.
“Of that number, we have issued 17 Provisional Principal Licenses to companies that would spearhead the disruption of financial processes. Asia Premier International Limited is one of them and today we witness the launch of their digital token trading platform: ‘NiuEx’ Exchange,” he added.
Lambino said the fintech enterprises ecosystem addessess the call of a financial revolution which, he said, started at the creation of the mobile phone and the Internet.
As a result he said, the access, connectivity, and mobility that people enjoy in the digital age “pushed us to challenge the very definition of money and payments.”
“The potential of these financial technologies to enhance transfer and verification processes — and how trust in the financial industry is being shifted to the digital space — has captured the attention of governments, financial institutions and regulators,” Lambino emphasized.
Opposite reactions about blockchain, cryptocurrency
On the other hand, he noted that this development has put countries on different reactions; some of them taking a close look on how to regulate the growing number of platforms while others have shut their doors and eliminated any avenue for regulations.
But not the Philippines, he pointed, which “is in full support of this inevitable financial revolution.”
“We at CEZA have decided that we cannot wait to embrace the disruption and leap into the future of money, market, services and infrastructure,” Lambino said.
Seemingly to prove his point, the CEZA head said that the Authority “is now offering not only the Asia Pacific Region, but the world — a safe haven for fintech innovations to cultivate and grow.”
He credited CEZA’s powerful Charter, the source of the mandate at going after new investment opportunities, saying it (Charter) placed the Authority in a unique position to create Crypto Valley of Asia for fintech enterprises to legitimize their operations and properly register their initiatives.
Lambino takes pride in CEZA’s being the Philippines’ “only economic zone” clothed with the authority to regulate, license and propagate offshore fintech solutions enterprises as well as offshore digital token exchanges.”
He reiterated the Authority’s vision of developing the Zone as the home of the Crypto Valley of Asia, and making it the premier hub for enterprises which are into creating and producing financial products relating to Blockchain digital tokens, and other fintech technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Robo Advice.
The CEZA chief noted how fintech startups from across the world “are scrambling to find a regulator sandbox on which they could safely develop and test out their technologies and to service different industries to make financial processes faster, safer, and cheaper.”
“CEZA is providing such space to cultivate initiatives that would push for financial inclusion and greater access to cutting-edge technologies,” said Lambino.
He recalled that in just a matter of six months since CEZA launched the concept of its fintech haven, “one can already sense the strategic shift of focus to Cagayan Valley and more so to that port town of Sta. Ana.
Meanwhile, CEZA Deputy Administrator Raymundo T. Roquero said the plan to establish a Blockchain University inside CEZA will push through, saying this is really important in order to produce blockchain programmers, coders, designers, among others, as demand for these kinds of jobs are expected to grow in the near future.
 “In closing, let me say that in our book,the future has arrived, and the valley in northern Philippines is where it is found,” Lambino said.
 “I am very glad we are part of the future, happening right now before our very eyes,” Jimenez responded. (JM, CEZA)