A TOP official of the Philippine National Bank (PNB) vows to study bitcoin amid Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) accepting stance on cryptocurrencies.

PNB chair Flor Gozon Tarriela said they are looking at bitcoin and blockchain technology very cautiously but stressed the bank is not into it yet.

“PNB will closely study the disruptions going on in the financial sector. We want to know more about the trends. We want to be aware of what is happening. But as to our plans to venture, we are not into it yet,” said Tarriela, adding that they are in the process of studying its dynamics and its possible effects to the banking business.

A bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and worldwide payment system. It is the first decentralized digital currency, as the system works without a central bank or single administrator.

While it recognized the potential benefits of virtual currencies as it facilitate the movement of funds at a much faster, cheaper, and convenient way, the BSP is equally cautious of the potential risks including illicit activities such as money laundering and terrorist financing.

It has advised the public that they have to be conscious of the opaqueness of transactions involving bitcoins.

To minimize risks, the BSP encouraged existing and prospective virtual currency users to deal only with BSP-registered virtual currency exchanges and maintain only a sufficient amount of virtual currency enough to address transaction requirements.

BSP warned that virtual currency users should properly secure their virtual currency holdings and observe security tips to protect the confidentiality and integrity of personal information and transaction details.

“The BSP still has to issue regulations on this virtual currencies. But, we, in the banking industry advocate the know-your-customer first,” said Tarriela.

PNB’s thrust this year is to go digital. Tarriela said they have launched mobile banking apps to cater to the needs of the tech-savvy market.

“The way to go, really, is digital,” she said, adding that this will also help them reach out to the unbanked population.

As of 2017, there were only 44 million out of 100 million Filipinos that deposit money in banks. (KOC)