2019: Forex Trading In The Philippines — What Is LEGAL, What Is NOT

On October 30, 2018, the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Issued it’s latest advisory stating categorically that “Forex Trading Is Illegal In The Philippines” For Context, here are the highlights of that advisory:

October 30, 2018


The public is hereby advised to STOP engaging in Foreign Exchange Trading and to STOP investing in foreign-registered investment platforms of commodity futures, contracts for difference, indices, binary options and the like. Further, the SEC advises the public that persons and entities acting as brokers, salesmen or agents of these securities have NO LICENSE to engage or deal in any manner with these securities and should therefore be AVOIDED or IGNORED…

…The public is encouraged to report to the Commission entities and/or persons operating Foreign Exchange Trading platforms and those acting as brokers, salesmen or agents of these operators to the Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (EIPD) at telephone numbers 818-76-50 and 818-63-37.”

My name is Mark So and I have been trading the Forex Market online for approximately 15 years already. I am based in the Philippines and I have been educating our fellow Filipino’s on the dangers as well as facts about this highly speculative industry.

When this advisory came out, I had a lot of people ask me questions, but a lot more people keeping quiet and slowly move away from Forex trading. I would therefore like to share some more information and clarification on this topic in a simple Q and A (Question and Answer) format.

Q: “Is Studying and Analyzing Currency Movements Illegal in The Philippines?”

A: “NO”

Q: “I have an existing trading account with a Foreign registered broker, am I in trouble?”

A: “NO”

Q: “Can I still trade my forex account? Or should I just withdraw the funds”

A: “Yes you can still trade your account. You can also just withdraw the funds if you do not want to trade anymore”

Q: But what about the advisory of SEC that Forex trading is illegal in the Philippines, what aspect is considered illegal?

A: As the Advisory states, the public should not invest in actual foreign exchange trading. This would literally mean that you should not open a trading account with any Foreign registered investment platform moving forward. Attending a seminar on understanding what it is all about is not considered illegal.

Q: Why did SEC issue this advisory?

A: The advisory came about because of a lot of complaints from investors who lost money trading forex due to entities acting as brokers, salesmen or agents and have no regulatory licenses in the Philippines. So please beware of entities and personalities that use deceptive advertising and marketing tactics that lure a lot of unsuspecting investors giving them false hopes. 

Q: Are you concerned that the SEC may pursue a case against you and your education in Forex?

A: NO. My intentions are very clear. My purpose is to educate and protect people in this industry, not to deceive and scam people.

In fact, a few days after the SEC advisory came out, I placed a call directly to the Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (EIPD) at telephone numbers 818-76-50 and 818-63-37 and talked to the person in charge of pursuing those in violation of this advisory and clarified. I stated my name and what I do.

From my understanding, the priority for the EIPD is to pursue cases where there are complaints of fraudulent activities which have come to their attention. Realistically, this is what the SEC can do at this point. Reading between the lines However, if you already have a trading account and have no complaints, there really is nothing the EIPD can and will do.

Q: What is your plan as a Forex Trainer in the future?

A: I have already volunteered to be a resource person for the SEC to get policies in place to regulate the Forex Market in the Philippines. I’ve had ongoing productive phone conversations with the EIPD in 2018 and stating this year 2019 with the Markets and Securities Regulatory Division (MSRD) who will be issuing policy guidelines for properly regulating Forex in the Philippines. I have offered my help in several key issues in getting these policies done and from how our conversations are going, they are open to collaborate with me. 

I do understand the plight of uninformed investors who want to get into the Forex trading space. I also have a deep appreciation of what the SEC is trying to do to protect the investment public in general.

We are still early stages but according to the MSRD, they’ve been wanting to release policy guidelines already since last year, but they still need some more research. Needless to say, I will be doing my very best to help the SEC get Forex Trading and Investing in the Philippines legal and regulated already and STOP those who victimize people in our industry.

Q: “Will the SEC Regulate the Forex Market In The Philippines?”

A: “According to the MSRD of SEC, Yes, however there is no definite time table yet for this.”

Q: “What Should I do Now If I’m Really Interested In Forex?”

A:  “Study first, when the regulations or clearer guidelines are in place in the Philippines, then start trading.”

Q: “What’s the point of studying and Analyzing Currency Movements If I Can’t Trade Yet?”

A: “Understanding when to exchange your USD to Pesos or Pesos to Euros or Yen or Pounds and other currency movements is important when it comes to mainstream businesses and Overseas Filipino Workers who regularly transact businesses in foreign currencies. Money Changers and forex remittance companies, even regular tourists and travelers who want to minimize foreign conversion losses due to fluctuations can also benefit from what I teach. Furthermore, Understanding currency movements is the foundation that is needed when learning to invest outside of the Philippines.”

Do you have questions? Leave a comment below and I will try my best to answer them.

47 thoughts on “2019: Forex Trading In The Philippines — What Is LEGAL, What Is NOT”

    • Not familiar with them, so I can’t say. If it is pure education then sure, if it is not then go back to the SEC advisory

  1. I don’t see any mention of the word ILLEGAL in the Advisory, nor do I see any mention or quote of any existing law on the books, therefore this seems like a lot of smoke with no substance.

    An Advisory is simply that and nothing more, without any power of enforcement.

    I understand the reasons for this particular advisory, and I agree with it and support it one hundred percent.
    It is badly needed to protect the public from unscrupulous con men, and to provide some order to the industry.

    However, let us not get carried away. This Advisory should have no effect on established legitimate traders. If trading in these items was truly illegal then all the banks would be in big trouble, so lets get real.

    • Lol! The word illegal is on the title itself.

      Like you, I agree that there is still a lot to still be clarified.

      But as mentioned, the SEC is planning on issuing better guidelines to properly regulate the online forex market industry in the Philippines.

      If you would like to help and volunteer, like me, do call the SEC and provide help. The hotlines are above.

    • Hi! I have a question regarding a demo account..is it ok i did not pursue opening an account or to make the story short did’nt give them the documents that they were asking?

    • re XM, look at where they are regulated. ask them what their negative balance policies are. Also look at their reviews online.

    • Just from my experience, I don’t know if they improved their service. I opened an account with them 6 years ago, customer service sucks, if it’s about depositing money, they solve it immediately but if it’s about withdrawal or other account service request, forget it. That’s the time I research about them and I’ve seen a lot of people complaining. Currently, I am trading with FXTM, FXCM, and Pepperstone (If you ask why I have 3 active accounts, well I don’t like my money to disappear if one of them file for bankruptcy).

  2. Hi sir, how about fx trading? Have you heard about it already? It says that the main office is in korea. Is it legit or scam. Thank you.

    • Hi Carmela, no forex or options broker is being regulated in the Philippines by both SEC and BSP as of the moment, so on that basis, no. But if you are asking if they are a legitimate company, you will have to do your own due dilligence I’m afraid

  3. A lot of people misunderstood this advisory, I kept on commenting on every facebook post regarding this matter that, forex trading in general is not illegal here in the Philippines, it’s just not regulated. The public is only warned not to engage in this industry, that’s it. What illegal is asking for someone to fund your account, or representing a specific foreign broker to invite people on investing or trading on their platform. I just hope forex trading will be regulated here in the Philippines. That’s the time SEC will go after you if those people complained for not getting what they expected.

    • I provide a guide in my orientation sessions. Please attend the next one. Please call (632)6873416 and look for CJ for tge most updated schedules. Thank you

  4. Hi Mark! What is your preferred withdrawal method from your fx account? I have tried wire transfer directly to my account and it charges 30%. This is too steep for me and I want to know if there are other withdrawal methods that does not charge this high. I hope you could help out.

    By the way, thank you so much for this very informative post.

    • Wire transfers should not be 30% depending on your broker and your bank it should be a fixed fee of roughly $50 to $60 only. I suggest you look at either changing brokers or banks if that is the case. Wire transfers are for me the withdrawal method of choice.

  5. Is hotforex legit..have you heard of them..been playing around with their demo account for three months now..im still undecided and do some more research on other brokers..thank you

  6. Is hotforex legit..have you heard of them..been playing around with their demo account for three months now..im still undecided and do some more research on other brokers..thank you

    • I haven’t traded w Hotforex, so I do not have any experience with how they treat withdrawals. Regulations wise, and as a general rule, I trade with either (UK FCA Financial Conduct Authority) or ASIC (Australian Securities Investment Commission) registered brokers only as a personal regulation standard. If Hot forex is regulated elsewhere, please just look at the following: are they regulated in another country, what is the fund segregation policy? what is their policy on negative balance protection?, what is their policy on withdrawals?, specifically how long it should take them to give you back the money. Go to google and seek out reviews of users, read all you can then after that, check if you feel okay to proceed, if not then you have your answer

  7. Hi Mark, if you start earning profits from an online forex broker, is this act considered a business or professional income? Do you file an income tax for the profits if it is a significant amount?

    • Yes. It is filed under additional income. You will have to ask your accountant how to do that specifically though

  8. Hi, What forex website do you use, I’m thinking about FXCM because their platform is user friendly. Any advice is of big help.

    Thank you

  9. my egyptian boyfriend is a forex trader. he wanted to withdraw his money in the philippines..is it possible?

    • If he is a permanent resident and he funded his account from the Philippines then yes, otherwise no as there are AMLA (anti money laundering act) to comply with.

  10. Hi Sir Mark,
    Good Day!

    I have also a website which do educate also aspiring traders..
    I sell digital courses in a form of ebooks, audiobooks and video courses..
    I am a pure Filipino but my clients are Foreign..
    I was planning to do a mentorship/coaching program or a master class to my fellow Filipino..
    My question is, I am allowed to do mentoring, teaching to equip other aspiring Filipino traders?
    Is selling digital courses such as ebooks, audio books or offering mentorship program is illegal when it comes to FOREx Trading?

    Do I need to register my website in SEC?

    or Do I need to secure any documents to formalize or legalize it?

    I highly appreciate your answer to this matter..

    • You will have to do your own due dilligence. Please read the comments as it was tackled already. Or Please attend my orientation programs as I mention what to look for then.

  11. Can I still open a trading account without running into any legal issues? I’m looking into Blueberry Markets as my broker, what do you think? Thank you!

    • You can open accounts. That is your money. However you must always accept risks if things fo wrong. If you run into trouble and you run to SEC after they stated already that they deem that as illegal, they may not be able to do anything much for you. Bottom line opening account is not the problem, what to do if things go wrong thats where it gets messy. Just dont forget to do due dilligence and just put in an amount you are willing to lose if things go wrong.

  12. Hi, Mark. A friend informs me if I am interested into a forex trading. Honestly, I am not that familiar about forex trading.

    This person though promises a 50% return of investment on top of the capital after 30 days. Does forex can sustain such big ROI?

    • Hi Sheena,

      1st- is your friend registered under SEC or BSP to operate as a fund manager? If not then that is not regulated. Examples of regulated pooled fund management are mutual funds. If he/she is offering to trade your account (you provide access to your account through just power of attorney or side contract) then that is not regulated — It will just be a simple legal agreement between you and your friend. So if things go south, you cannot run to SEC or BSP to get your money back. You will have to resort to a personal lawyer and that can be messy and more costly.

      2nd. While Forex can provide huge returns, no one can guarantee any returns consistently. And that does not include just forex but all investments in general. Unless he / she is asking you for a loan and the interest that he/she has agreed to pay you is 50%…. if you step back a bit and think about it, is that realistic? If not, then you have your answer

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