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UnionBank Philippines’ simple and seamless cryptocurrency exchange

OpenGov Asia has a rich tradition of recognising excellence in the Public Sector and Financial Services Industry.

As partners in organisations’ digital transformation journey, OpenGov Asia is eager to stay updated and informed with recipients of the Recognition of Excellence awards.

Catherine Anne P. Bautista-Casas, First Vice President and Director, Blockchain & Fintech Business Development, UnionBank

With this in mind, OpenGov Asia caught up with Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) to learn more about their journey in leveraging blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) in financial services.

UnionBank launched a two-way virtual currency ATM back in February 2019 that allows clients to buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for fiat (Philippine peso).

Cryptocurrency as a mode of exchange is quite prevalent in the Philippines, so this ATM is a significant step forward in establishing a regulated and simple method of exchanging virtual currency.

We spoke with Catherine Anne P. Bautista – Casas, UnionBank’s First Vice President and Director for Blockchain and Fintech Business Development.

Casas explained that they initially set up the ATM with the idea of gaining an understanding of how customers would respond to it and to learn from the bank’s first foray into digital assets.

Since the launch of the virtual currency ATM early last year, UnionBank has unveiled a slew of blockchain-enabled products and initiatives including the launch of PHX stablecoin pegged to the Philippine peso; and piloted a cross-border remittance transaction from Singapore to a rural bank in the Philippines.

During its inception, the ATM was initially linked to Bitcoin. However, after seeing the response from its customers, the bank has plans to diversify to other kinds of cryptocurrencies like Ether, Ripple, etc.

The initiative coming from a major bank is bound to boost the public confidence in blockchain and distributed ledger technology-applications

Using cryptocurrency as a mode of exchange can:

  • Be more affordable in sending remittances;
  • Provide financial inclusion to a large chunk of the population that does not have a bank account; and
  • Shorten the process of converting cash to virtual currency from the typical processing time of a day to near real-time.

Moreover, the user experience of the ATM is simple and seamless. Users only need a UnionBank account to be able to use the virtual currency ATM. There are also clearly laid out steps for buying and selling cryptocurrency.

UnionBank sees a lot of value in blockchain technology and plans to explore, pilot and potentially roll-out more use cases. It believes that it is a forward-looking technology that can serve their customers well and promote financial inclusion.

The Philippines is a country that is proactive with crypto regulations and was among the first nations to recognize it as an asset class.

The deployment of regulated crypto ATMs could foster mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies, build investor confidence and help develop the local cryptocurrency sector.

OpenGov Asia appreciates and congratulates UnionBank for its innovative initiative and wishes them the best for this project.

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