UnionBank of the Philippines now offers Bitcoin and Ethereum trading

UnionBank, one of the Philippines’ largest universal banks, is launching cryptocurrency trading through a partnership with a Swiss crypto firm.

The Union Bank of the Philippines, or simply UnionBank — one of the Philippines’ largest universal banks — has launched a pilot program for Bitcoin BTC and Ether ETH custody and trading services for select retail customers, according to a joint announcement on Nov. 2.

UnionBank has launched a new investment and trading feature in collaboration with Swiss crypto technology firm Metaco, with the feature going live on Metaco’s digital asset platform Harmonize. UnionBank first collaborated with Metaco in January 2022 to develop cryptocurrency trading services.

UnionBank, which is licensed and supervised by the Philippines’ central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), has been actively exploring the cryptocurrency industry in recent years. UnionBank launched a payments-focused stablecoin tied to the Philippine peso in 2019.

According to UnionBank’s chief technology officer and chief transformation officer, Henry Aguda, Metaco has been critical in the bank’s goal of providing “customer-centric” services in the Philippines. He also mentioned UnionBank as one of the country’s early regulated crypto adopters, stating:

“We are proud to continue UnionBank’s series of industry firsts, this time being the first regulated bank in the country allowing digital currency exchange features for clients.”

The announcement comes just days after Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos emphasized the importance of using blockchain technology to master digital banking and transactions.

According to the Basel Committee, banks worldwide own 9.4 billion euros in crypto assets.

Marcos mentioned several UnionBank milestones in an official presidential speech published in September 2022, stating:

“The track record of UnionBank in creating opportunities through innovation and digital solutions in the banking sector is uncontested.”

Previously, the BSP warned the public against using non-local cryptocurrency trading platforms, emphasizing that dealing with foreign virtual asset service providers makes enforcing consumer protection difficult. There were 19 registered VASPs in the Philippines as of August.

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