The Philippines has a “Crypto Valley of Asia,” an initiative of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, the government agency responsible for managing the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport. An airport is now being planned for inside this economic zone to address the needs of its investors and crypto service providers. Many cryptocurrency exchanges have been licensed to operate within the zone.
Airport Planned for Crypto Valley of Asia
The Philippines’ Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has confirmed its plans to build an airport inside its “Crypto Valley of Asia.” According to Administrator and CEO Raul Lambino, the airport will cost between $60 million and $80 million. He was quoted by the Manila Times on Thursday as saying:
The construction of a new airport is an important facility in the establishment and realization of the so-called Crypto Valley of Asia concept that we have embarked.
The CEO explained that CEZA is now in talks with the country’s Department of Transportation and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines which are responsible for licensing new airports. “We hope we will be able to realize this in the next three years,” he remarked.
The Crypto Valley of Asia is a joint initiative by CEZA and private developer Northern Star Gaming and Resorts Inc. to provide a stable and safe region for blockchain developers and crypto exchange operators. The initiative is part of the government’s bid to foster a fintech ecosystem to attract international crypto and blockchain companies to set up shop in the country. Lambino believes that it will help the Philippines “become one of the major offshoring destinations for fintech and blockchain-related work.”
Meeting Investors’ Demand
According to Lambino, investors and companies operating within the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport have expressed concern over the lack of airport facilities since they need to get to the crypto valley as quickly as possible. However, the nearest airport to the economic zone, the Cagayan North International Airport, is 80 kilometers away. The CEO noted that a master plan and a feasibility study are currently being undertaken by an American company in collaboration with some of their local partners, the publication conveyed.
“Unless we construct an expressway, we would not be able to address the concern of investors who would want to come to the ecozone as quick as possible,” Lambino told the news outlet. He elaborated that it would cost at least P10 to P12 billion to build an expressway, concluding that building a new airport is more practical and faster to implement than constructing an expressway. “Right of way acquisition will take more than five years and thus it is more practical and more doable to construct a new airport with less cost and less time than to construct a new expressway that will connect Lal-lo to the ecozone,” he detailed.
CEZA offers two types of “Offshore Virtual Currency Exchange” licenses: the principal license and the regular license. The former allows licensees to conduct offshore fintech and crypto exchange activities, while the latter restricts them to only crypto exchange activities. Earlier this month, the authority confirmed that there are 25 financial technology principal licensees from Asia and Europe. As of September 2019, 40 companies have reportedly been licensed by CEZA overall.
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), has licensed 13 crypto exchanges to operate in the country, according to the central bank’s latest list. Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been providing technical assistance to the BSP including on crypto assets. The IMF sees the Philippines as a potentially important market for crypto assets.