Business opportunity
HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann Ll. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2018 - 12:00am

An investment program being launched next year for Japanese investors via an initial coin offering (ICO) promises a windfall for the Philippines in terms of real estate, tourism, renewable energy and organic farming developments.

The NOAH Ark Coin (NOAHCOIN) will be introduced in Japan by midyear as an ICO, and will be used both as a funding source and eventual digital currency for a number of projects being developed in the Philippines.

These include a mixed-use resort development in Mindanao that will have an assisted-living facility, residential real estate in Metro Manila, an organic agriculture program for farmers in Mindanao, and renewable energy projects in various locations around the country.

Although the primary focus of the ICO is as an investment opportunity for exclusively Japanese investors, the NOAH Ark Coin infrastructure will provide, as a coincidental benefit, a secure, fast, and virtually cost-free remittance facility for Japan-based OFWs, through Noah’s partnerships with the well-known Nippon Pay in Japan and Philippines- based blockchain technology provider SCI, in conjunction with tech developers Ark Systems Technology.

Private investment from Japan has declined sharply since the beginning of the Duterte administration, mirroring the drop in commercial investment, but for different reasons. According to experts, while this may be partly attributed to policy uncertainty, the drop in private investment is due mainly to frustration with the financial environment for ordinary Japanese citizens.

Lacking safe and profitable opportunities to invest, many Japanese simply hold cash at home, so that much of Japan’s investment potential is untapped. Experts say that although naturally cautious, Japanese investors are eager to explore investment opportunities, and tend to take a long-term view of potential returns.

The Philippines is highly regarded as perhaps Asia’s last greenfield by most Japanese and is perceived as a country having a strong economy but underdeveloped in comparison to other high- return markets like Hong Kong and Singapore, and thus promises solid returns over the long term. Thus any well-designed investment opportunity in the Philippines is enthusiastically received in Japan.

Because similar investment programs have been met with high demand, Noah developed the NOAH Ark Coin plan to tap this financial potential, benefitting the Philippines in an entirely risk-free way, as the ICO will only be offered to Japanese investors. This is in part because of the tremendous opportunity the Japanese market offers, but also because compared to the Philippines and even countries like the US, Japan is comparatively better developed in terms of regulatory and financial sector management of the fast-growing cryptocurrency environment.

Cryptocurrency in any form, despite its enormous potential, is an admittedly risky business, subject to a great deal of investor skepticism, unfortunately much of it deserved due to past cases of poorly designed or managed ICOs, and in a few instances, regrettable cases of outright fraud. To ensure NOAHCOIN’s success with cautious Japanese investors and ever tightening regulatory scrutiny of the industry, NOAHCOIN’s creators have sought to build security and credibility into their ICO before it is even introduced, beginning with the selection of one or more of the best performing and most secure exchanges, which impose strict technical and financial requirements on prospective new coins.

They say that unlike many other ICOs, whose returns are dependent on the coins’ trade value as exchange market securities, NOAHCOIN is classified as a token coin, one whose primary purpose is something more substantial than a simple trade instrument. For example, among the other benefits it will provide to investors, NOAHCOIN can be used to claim special incentives, products, and services within Noah’s developments here.

Like other cryptocurrencies, NOAHCOIN will eventually be available to traders from the Philippines and other countries in limited quantities through the cryptocurrency market, but the ICO will only be offered in Japan.

The exchange requires that the ICO-issuing companies be government-licensed. In this case, NOAHCOIN is backed by Nippon Pay’s license from the Bank of Japan, and once it is approved, a license as a remittance facility here in the Philippines is issued. This is mainly necessary to provide a properly regulated technical platform to allow the smooth transfer of invested funds from Japan to the Philippines.

Development of the necessary technical infrastructure for NOAHCOIN, which includes the creation of secure digital wallets, the actual creation of the digital coins and integration of the NOAHCOIN distributed ledger, otherwise known as the blockchain, with the Ethereum cryptocurrency platform is ongoing while the final necessary government licenses and regulatory clearances are being secured.

If all goes according to plan, the ICO will be launched by mid-year.

The irony of a whistleblower

The main tipster on the P6.4 billion shabu shipment case has found himself on the other side of the fence.

Chen Julong, also known as Richard Chen and also Richard Tan, is the owner of Hong Fei Logistics that is renting the warehouse on Aster St., Paso De Blas in Valenzuela City where the shabu haul was discovered. He was the one who tipped off to the Bureau of Customs that some volume of illegal drugs might already be in his own warehouse at the said address.

But what he thought was good for the country, the reporting of the suspected illegal cargoes to Philippine authorities, all of a sudden might be proven bad for him, because not only is he now being hunted by the drug triad for helping local authorities confiscate the multi-billion peso shabu shipment, he is now also ironically placed as one of the accused.

It was a big blow to his personal life, his reputation and his career as a businessman. He is the current vice president of a charity-driven Filipino-Chinese association in the country, but after the government included him as one of the accused, he is now reportedly suffering isolation.

Senate transcripts quote Richard Chen as saying that he had no way of knowing what were meticulously concealed inside those containers, relying solely on his managers and the declarations, if not for the classified info relayed to him much later by  his manager and authorities in China who were able to squeeze the crucial information from illegal drug operators about to be executed in China.

Fact is, he had managers whom he consistently relied on in his logistics business. Besides, even BOC personnel armed with the necessary tools took up to four hours to open a single cylinder used to conceal the illegal substances. And there were several cylinders.

Is it possible that Chen was wrongly accused?

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