NTC instructs ISPs to block access to Binance

MANILA, Philippines — Internet service providers (ISPs) have been directed to “immediately” block access to Binance from the Philippines, a move that will ultimately ban the operations of online cryptocurrency exchanges flagged as operating without the necessary licenses.

In a statement on Tuesday, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said it had issued a memorandum instructing ISPs to block access to crypto platforms upon request from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“NTC requests ISPs to submit a report on actions taken in response to the above directive no later than five days after receipt of the above memorandum,” the NTC said.

As of this writing, at least one ISP has complied with the NTC’s order.

On March 25, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it had decided to impose a ban on Binance because Binance did not obtain a license to create or operate a securities trading exchange, which violated the Securities Supervision Act.

read: SEC pushes forward efforts to ban Binance in Philippines

To recall, the SEC issued a warning against trading through the platform as early as November last year, encouraging traders to withdraw their holdings.

Prior to the regulator’s statement, former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao told Philippine media in 2022 that they planned to apply for a virtual asset service provider (entity that facilitates the transfer or exchange of digital assets) license to provide more localization product. He emphasized the importance of regulation in allowing wider adoption of cryptocurrencies.

Zhao has resigned after pleading guilty to violating U.S. anti-money laundering laws. Zhao was replaced by long-time Binance executive Richard Teng.

Binance ban support

FinTech Alliance PH, an industry group for financial technology players, previously told The Inquirer that banning the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges from operating in the country is a way to protect local traders.

“This is all about consumer protection and education. We are guiding the public not to trade with any unregistered exchanges and trading platforms,” said Lito Villanueva, founding president of Fintech Alliance PH. “

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reported that Binance offers more than 402 cryptocurrency products with an average daily trading volume of $65 billion. It has more than 183 million subscribers worldwide.

Read: Philippine Digital Trade Organization Backs Binance Ban

Blockchain analytics firm Chainaanalysis says the popularity of playing money-making games is driving cryptocurrency adoption in the Philippines. It has even become a source of income for some Filipinos during the pandemic, when unemployment is high due to strict lockdowns.

Popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin has been gaining traction recently with the approval of Bitcoin exchange-traded funds in the United States, allowing the digital asset to be traded through traditional regulated stock exchanges.

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Prices are also expected to surge with the planned Bitcoin halving, in which case the production of new digital assets will slow down, pushing up the value of the cryptocurrency.

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