Bonifacio Global City in the Philippines.


Lyka gems controversy: Philippine shop shuts down after losing P5 million

A shop in the Philippines has reportedly shut down after losing P5 million that it failed to get in cash refund for its Lyka-based transactions.

Lyka is a popular app in the Philippines that allows people to earn digital gems that they can use to pay for goods or services at participating stores. The app was popularized by celebrities, including actress Ivana Alawi who vlogged about using Lyka gems to buy a new car.

Social media influencer Ralph Javier said the milk tea shop where his sister works in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) “shut down after losing P5 million in Lyka gems that they could not encash”.

Javier blamed Lyka for “cheating” businesses of their hard-earned money and causing their premature bankruptcy. “Pity the business owners who accepted Lyka,” Javier said in Filipino.

In July, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) ordered Lyka to suspend its operations and invited the company to register as an operator of payment system.

The move triggered a wave of encashment requests from participating shops, that include restaurants, hotels, jewelry stores and other retail outlets.

The requests ranged from as low as a few thousands to several millions of pesos, according to a Philippine Star report.

Lyka’s partner merchants have also temporarily suspended the acceptance of Lyka gems from customers until its issue with the BSP is resolved.

Lyka had said it was “continuously communicating” BSP to register as an operator of payment system, however, until now there has been no further update on its registration.

Lyka is owned by a Hong Kong-based company. Actor Willie Revillame, in his Wowowin show, previously revealed Bren Chong to be the owner of Lyka. The Bren Esports CEO is under a manhunt by Philippine authorities for his alleged involvement in a drug smuggling ring.

Chong has taken to Twitter to defend himself and claims that the charges are false. He is also wanted on more smuggling charges, with one case in 2019 valued at $1.25 million. ICA/Expat Media

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