Philippines, South Korea and Thailand All Planning to Ease Crypto Regulations, Creating ‘Crypto Valleys’

Local news outlet Nikkei Asian Review reports that several Asian countries have launched simultaneous efforts to ease government regulations to attract new financial technology (fintech) companies. While Japan remains one of the freest nations for cryptocurrency-related business, countries like the Philippines are working to build the “Crypto Valley of Asia” inspired by the crypto-hub in Zug, Switzerland, which is now home to almost 200 blockchain companies, including Ethereum.

“The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority has secured commitments from at least 25 tech companies to help set up the project, which will include an internet data center, self-sustaining power production infrastructure and a “blockchain academy” training facility,” reports Nikkei. “Raul Lambino, the CEZA chief executive, said the project would generate 10,000 local jobs.”

Lambino told Nikkei that CEZA is receiving overwhelming interest from offshore companies in fintech and cryptocurrency trading for the project. The interest is reported to have already “surpassed all expectations”.

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Developments for the “Crypto Valley of Asia” go hand in hand with a recent announcement from the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to legalize initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country. The Philippine SEC revealed plans earlier this month for drafted regulations that treat ICOs as securities. In addition, new rules on token sales will follow similar regulations to initial public offerings (IPOs).

“With these startups come huge investments in their portfolio. Surely, each country would want to take a piece of the action,” said the chairman of industry group Fintech Alliance. “Taking blockchain and fintech players in with enabling regulations and potential investment incentives would surely make the game more exciting.”

Meanwhile, governing bodies and officials in South Korea and Thailand are expressing a similar desire to make their respective countries a hub for the blockchain industry.

Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong of South Korea is reported to be seeking central government approval to designate a special zone of the island for blockchain and cryptocurrency businesses. This motion comes in the wake of the South Korean government announcing plans to invest 5 trillion won ($4.4 billion) next year on eight specialized projects to develop the country’s economy through blockchain and big data analytics.

“Blockchain is an opportunity for Korea to take the lead in global internet platform [development],” said Won.

Thailand is launching a similar effort to attract fintech company investment into the country. Last month the Thai SEC implemented regulations allowing ICO and cryptocurrency issuers to offer up to 300,000 baht ($9,050) to retail investors. Local Thai news outlets report that an estimated 50 crypto projects have expressed interest in issuing tokens in Thailand, “three of which have already filed applications to become ICO portals.”

Finally, Japan continues to dominate the Southeast Asian market in cryptocurrency support and development. Despite recent public outcry for stricter regulations following the hack of Coincheck cryptocurrency exchange, numerous Japanese cryptocurrency companies have established themselves in the region.

Nikkei reports that research from Frost & Sullivan predicts that the fintech industry will grow a $72 billion dollar industry by 2020. Largely due to growth in the adoption of cryptocurrency and other cashless payment processes, this would represent at 72.5 percent increase in the overall fintech market between 2015 and 2020.

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