Union Bank of the Philippines Launching Two-Way Cryptocurrency ATM.

February 10, 2019

One of the largest banks in the Philippines is reportedly launching a two-way cryptocurrency ATM that is in compliance with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ specifications. In the Philippines, the central bank regulates cryptocurrencies “when used for delivery of financial services, particularly, for payments and remittances.”

According to reports from Filipino media, Union Bank of the Philippines, a banking giant that is the seventh largest in the country, is launching crypto asset automated teller machines (ATM). The Philippine Star, who broke the news on the matter, cited a Union Bank press statement.

Per the statement, the company launched its first two-way cryptocurrency ATM earlier this week, allowing customers to purchase and sell assets like Bitcoin for pesos. Union Bank has purportedly collaborated with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the nation’s central bank, to ensure that this newfangled offering is compliant. The Manila-headquartered institution, which has over 300 branches smattered across metropolises and the countryside, remarked:

In the bank’s continued quest to cater to the evolving needs and tastes of customers, including clients who use virtual currency, the ATM will provide these clients an alternative channel to convert their pesos to virtual currency and vice versa.”

In a comment on Twitter, NewsBTC’s Joseph Young remarked that Union Bank’s proactivity in the crypto space is not only good for regulation, but for awareness and adoption too.

Crypto Regulation in the Philippines
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas explained, “Following the warning advisory issued by the BSP in March 2014, a formal regulatory approach was adopted through the issuance of Circular No. 944 dated 6 February 2017.” This circular establishes “guidelines for virtual currency (VC) exchanges” offering “services or engaging in activities that provide facility for the conversion or exchange of fiat currency to VC or vice versa” in the country, the BSP wrote.

Noting that it “does not intend to endorse” any cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, the BSP clarified that it aims to regulate them “when used for delivery of financial services, particularly, for payments and remittances.”
According to the circular, crypto exchanges must obtain a certificate of registration to operate as a remittance and transfer company. In addition, “Large value pay-outs of more than P500,000 [~$183,000] or its foreign currency equivalent, in any single transaction with customers or counterparties, shall only be made via check payment or direct credit to deposit accounts.”

Furthermore, they must “maintain an internal control system commensurate to the nature, size and complexity of their respective businesses” and adhere to the minimum control standard issued by the BSP, the circular describes.

As of November last year, the central bank has issued provisional licenses to seven crypto exchanges and is evaluating over 40 applications currently, according to a document on its website.

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