UnionBank, Philippines’ seventh largest publicly-listed bank, is launching the country’s first crypto automated teller machine (ATM), The Philippine Star reported February 6.
As UnionBank Chairman Justo A. Ortiz disclosed in a recent interview with local reporters, the Aboitiz Equity Ventures’ banking unit is rolling out what would soon become the first two-way Bitcoin ATM in the archipelago, slated to be installed in the bank’s concept branch in Makati City. Dubbed “The Ark,” the concept branch is the first fully digital, “paperless” bank in the country established in late 2017 in an effort to “address the common pain points in banking.”
The new Bitcoin ATMs system was developed in partnership with Coins.ph, a FinTech firm founded in 2014 by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Ron Hose and Runar Petursson, to provide a financial services platform that would allow Filipinos to buy and sell digital assets.
Further detailing the project, the bank has previously released an official statement indicating that the Bitcoin kiosk will serve as an alternative channel for converting the country’s fiat currency to digital currency and vice versa. The project, according to UnionBank, was spearheaded as part of a broader initiative in a bid adapt to the continuously evolving customer needs, including those currently invested in digital assets.
As Ortiz noted:
“That should be interesting. It’s not part of what you do on a daily basis, but it’s cheap now. Maybe it’s time put a few in your drawer.”
As it stands, cryptocurrency trading remains legal in the Philippines, with the country’s central bank the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas overseeing the domestic crypto industry.
While crypto trading has not been outlawed in the country, the central bank underscored that it is neither promoting cryptocurrencies as a medium of exchange nor as a legitimate tender, largely due to the high volatility associated with such digital assets.