Union Bank, a part of Aboitiz-led group, has become the first and only bank in the Philippines to receive a license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to operate as a virtual asset service provider (VASP). This ‘Certificate of Authority’ marks Union Bank as the first financial institution in the country to gain the certification.
Union Bank’s online mobile application provides a platform for users to trade cryptocurrencies as well as manage traditional banking and digital assets in a single mobile platform. President and chief executive Edwin Bautista noted that the move is a significant leap forward for UnionBank, as it is looking to revolutionize the banking landscape. He added, “By obtaining this license, we are not only paving the way for even more groundbreaking opportunities but also enhancing our digital capabilities and further transforming the way our customers interact with us.”
UnionBank is now introducing a new feature that will enable customers to directly buy and sell Bitcoins (BTC) through its mobile app, which is set to launch by the fourth quarter of this year. Cathy Casas, head of the emerging technology division at UnionBank, said that the bank is committed and equipped to meet the evolving needs of consumers in this era of constant change. She added, “Our pursuit of this license isn’t just about staying current, but about being future-proof and future-ready.”
UnionBank went live on its flagship platform Harmonize in November 2022, for a pilot program for crypto custody and trading services to select retail customers, and initially included Bitcoin and Ether (ETH). In 2019, the bank also launched the country’s first two-way virtual currency ATM located in its digital branch – The ARK – in Makati City.