By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) reported a total of $8.131 billion investment pledges in 2018 its biggest project approvals in more than two decades following the unveiling of its cryptocurrency and blockchain hub, a first in the country, and the retooling of its online gaming industry sans the control of a duopoly.
Secretary Raul Lambino, administrator and CEO of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA)
In its year-end report, CEZA Administrator and CEO Secretary Raul L. Lambino, Administrator and CEO said his administration is pursuing relentlessly to turn the Cagayan Special Economic Zone into a haven for Financial Technology (Fintech) innovation and tourism-driven entertainment.
In mid-May, Lambino unveiled the cryptocurrency initiative that he fittingly christened “Crypto Valley in Asia.” This has encouraged a rush of cryptocurrency and Fintech firms to locate in Santa Ana, applying with CEZA as Principal Licensees for blockchain and virtual currency trading.
CEZA has set high ceiling for the initial investment to be made by the licensed exchanges just to locate their permanent offices in Santa Ana: $100,000 for application fees, $150,000 for license fees, and $1 million each as investment commitment to be delivered in two years.
At the end if 2018, 25 offshore Fintech firms were given Principal Licensees by the agency.
Every exchange, once given the license to operate, had to put up a minimum of P2 billion in investment, and sign up at least a minimum of four traders or brokers.
With the new locators, CEZA revenues more than tripled its 2017 revenue collections of P233.063 million to P706.512 million last year, or a 330 percent increase — an all-time new agency record in total revenues collected.
Because of this, CEZA earned a net of P295.661 million to set aside dividends worth P147.830 million for the national government.