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UnionBank Upbeat on crypto

Union Bank is upbeat on the prospect of virtual money as it eyes to deploy more crypto ATMs by next year.

The Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP), the country’s leading digitized bank, is bullish on the prospects of cryptocurrencies as it revealed plans to deploy additional crypto automated teller machines (ATMs) by next year.

UBP head of Platform Development Group Ramon Duarte said the bank had been receiving positive responses from its clients since the launch of its first two-way cryptocurrency ATM in March in its digital branch dubbed ‘The Ark’ in Makati in partnership with Coins.ph. The crypto ATM allows the bank’s account holders with e-wallets to buy and sell digital units for cash and vice-versa.

“We’ve had some good response there. Obviously, that’s going to be a very selective kind of thing. That’s not something that we’re going to be rolling out to all our branches, but I think you can expect that we’re going to put out at least a couple more,” he said.

Duarte added expects the use of tokenized money in the country to grow. He said the crypto ATM also serves to further familiarize Filipino consumers with tokenized money.

“Bitcoin is up and down, right now it’s very volatile but the way we’re seeing it, it’s really about supporting this new ecosystem,  We’re happy with what we’re seeing; there’s a lot of interest with it and we’re getting some usage so I think as time goes we’re going to learn and roll out some more.”

While the bank won’t have another crypto ATM roll-out this year, Duarte said the bank’s next crypto teller will have more functions than the first ATM it launched.

Cryptocurrency is a virtual currency (VC) generally used by online users. Bitcoin, which functions through the use of blockchain technology, became popular due to its fluctuating values and investment potential. VC is currently not issued by central banks or government authorities.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas issued a circular in 2017 requiring companies offering cryptocurrency exchanges to register with them. The circular also outlines the regulations for such transactions.

The central bank noted that it recognizes the potential of virtual currencies to provide more efficient transfer of funds and support financial inclusion.

Duarte said UnionBank wants to embed its banking services into other ecosystems. The bank is presently eyeing potential partnerships with health, education and small and micro enterprises and introduce digitalization to their financial activities.

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