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BSP to boost cyber security for PHL banking industry

The central bank is boosting efforts to improve cyber security measures of lenders in the country by creating a new division to ensure the transactions of Philippine banks are clean.

"We created a new division focused particularly on cyber security issues to strengthen our capacity in dealing with this," Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. told reporters over the weekend in Cebu City.

The new division, he said, will do surveillance and information dissemination across the country. It will "go around and examine institutions and verify and test the ability of those institutions to manage cybersecurity," Espenilla noted.

"This one is for supervised entities under the BSP. 'Yun ang kanilang main focus," he added.

Among the financial institutions under BSP supervision are banks (universal, commercial, thrift, rural, and cooperative) and other non-bank firms such as pawnshops.

Virtual currencies

Espenilla said the BSP is currently looking at options to regulate virtual currencies. "In our case, we don't regulate but given the increasing volume (of users), we are now that much closer to formally regulating virtual currencies," he said.

In the Philippines, Bitcoin transactions amount $2 million to $3 million a month. It is the most widely used virtual currency in the coutnry.

"It is not a small amount of transactions," Espenilla said.

The central bank is studying the possibility of regulating virtual currencies to safeguard the public from threats, he noted.

"We are looking at it for two important reasons: aspects of money laundering, and consumer protection concerns," he said, noted the public has an important role in this as well.

"Our belief is that BSP cannot always be around to protect the public. The public must, first and foremost, learn to protect itself," he added. – VDS, GMA News