Bitcoin Exchanges Could Face New Regulations in the Philippines

The central bank of the Philippines is looking to expand oversight of the country’s financial system following an embarrassing hack on the SWIFT international transfer system – a move that may ultimately result in new rules for domestic bitcoin services.

According to Reuters, officials for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas are mulling whether to apply additional scrutiny to money exchangers in the Philippines, which could capture bitcoin exchanges that swap cash for digital currencies.

During an event organized by the central bank, deputy governor Nestor Espenilla, who oversees the institution’s supervision of banks, said discussions were ongoing.

Espenilla was quoted as saying:

“That is what we are looking to do, whether it is now time to impose hard regulations for virtual currency operators. Right now, we look at them as akin to remittance companies.”

Earlier this year, a cyberattack on the central bank of Bangladesh resulted in the theft of $81m, which took place via the institution’s conduit to the SWIFT network. SWIFT is used as a clearing system for the world’s financial institutions, and flaws in the Bangladeshi central bank’s cybersecurity measures were blamed for enabling the intrusion.

The incident has sparked both criticism as well as a rethink of how these institutions access SWIFT. At the event, Espenilla said that central bank officials in the Philippines have organized a new working group to address potential flaws in its cybersecurity policies.

In March, Espenilla suggested that any banks found at fault in the February hack could face penalties, according to Bloomberg.

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