May 19, 2022

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Union Bank of Philippines to Offer Crypto Trading and Custodial Services

Union Bank of Philippines to Offer Crypto Trading and Custodial Services

One of the largest banks in the Philippines, Unionbank, is reportedly launching cryptocurrency trading and custodial services. “It’s a way to future-proof our banking business,” said a Unionbank executive.

Philippines’ Unionbank to Offer Crypto Trading and Custodial Services

Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP), also known as Unionbank, plans to offer cryptocurrency trading and custodial services, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

Unionbank is one of the largest universal banks in the Philippines with over $15 billion in assets under management (AUM). The bank is one of the first financial institutions in the Philippines to adopt cryptocurrency.

Cathy Casas, head of the bank’s blockchain and application programming interface group, explained that the average Filipino investor currently holds about 1% to 2% of their personal assets in cryptocurrency, like bitcoin. She added that if the markets are “stable,” investors would hold between 3% and 5% in 5 years.

The Unionbank executive estimates that about 5% of the local population has dabbled in cryptocurrency. She added that many crypto investors are young people, some of whom earn tokens from play-to-earn virtual games.

Casas commented:

It’s a way to future-proof our banking business.

On Thursday, Metaco, a provider of security software and infrastructure for the digital asset ecosystem, announced that Unionbank is implementing its digital asset management services. Metaco added that Unionbank is deploying services on IBM Cloud.

The bank first announced that it was piloting a crypto custody service in August last year, noting at the time that crypto assets are here to stay. Casas noted that the bank’s custodial service for digital assets will include tokenized bonds.

The central bank of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), has cautioned against investing in crypto. The central bank warned that cryptocurrencies could “pose a danger to the financial system” citing their vulnerability to illicit activities like money laundering and terrorist financing.

Casas said:

We are making efforts to educate our clients also via social media, making sure that they are safe.

Unionbank is one of the licensed cryptocurrency exchanges approved by the central bank. The bank launched its own stablecoin, PHX, in 2019 to provide rural banks in its network with easier access to payments and remittances.

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