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A Major Philippine Bank Just Launched Crypto ATMs and it May Fuel Massive Bitcoin Adoption

Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:53 PM
Joseph Young
Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:53 PM

According to local publications, Union Bank of the Philippines, one of the largest commercial banks in the Philippines, has launched the country’s first crypto ATM.

The bank said in an official statement obtained  by Philstar that the purpose of the ATM is to provide local users an easy way to convert cryptocurrency to fiat and vice versa.

The crypto ATM developed and distributed by UnionBank is a two-way machine, allowing users to purchase and sell cryptocurrencies.

Source: Mike Abundo, Chief Technology Officer at Reelmedia, BitPinas.com

“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,” UnionBank said.

Why is the Crypto ATM Launch of UnionBank Special?

Since 2017, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the central bank of the Philippines, has taken a proactive stance towards regulating the local cryptocurrency industry.

The Philippines was amongst the first countries to regulate cryptocurrencies as a recognized asset class and as a remittance method.

UnionBank has said that it has continuously collaborated with the central bank throughout the past several years and the recent launch of its crypto ATM has been approved by the central bank.

A UnionBank branch in the Philippines. Source: Shutterstock

It is the first case in which a major commercial bank worked with the central bank of the country to oversee the launch of a crypto ATM.

The bank has only launched one crypto ATM so far. But, UnionBank will evaluate the overall demand from users and the performance of the ATM in the coming weeks, which may lead to the deployment of more ATMs in the future.

Last week, on Laura Shin’s Unconfirmed podcast, Pantera Capital CEO Dan Morehead stated that one in ten adult users utilize Coins.ph, the most widely used cryptocurrency exchange in the Philippines.

Morehead stated :

A week or so ago, we announced that we sold Coins.ph in the Philippines and I think that is a great example of Bitcoin’s actual usage now and not 20 years from now. They have one out of ten adults in the Philippines as a customer. That’s very real. I think it is important for the community to really know that there are applications that are working right now.

As of early 2018, Coins.ph had more than five million users on its platform, using cryptocurrencies to pay utility bills, cover credit card payments, purchase mobile phone credit, trade digital assets, and send money across the country.

The level of adoption of cryptocurrencies in the Philippines is already higher than other major regions, mainly due to the lack of viable banking options for a large portion of the local population.

The deployment of central bank-approved crypto ATMs developed by a major commercial bank could lead to an increase in confidence towards the asset class and the local cryptocurrency sector.

The Philippines Could be the Best Country For Cryptocurrency Users

In the Philippines, cryptocurrency users can buy and sell digital assets at pretty much everywhere.

Through local brokerages and cryptocurrency apps, users can trade crypto assets for fiat money at convenience stores and thousands of remittance outlets.

UnionBank’s crypto ATM will only increase the liquidity and improve the accessibility of digital assets in the region, especially if the bank decides to expand its operations throughout 2019.

Source: Miguel Cuneta Twitter @miguelcuneta

Local users remain optimistic in the outlook of the Philippine cryptocurrency sector as UnionBank CEO Edwin Bautista is well recognized for his enthusiasm towards cryptocurrencies in the local digital asset industry.

In mid-2018, Bautista showcased a GPU-based Bitcoin mining kit at the BusinessWorld Economic Forum, demonstrating some of the experiments the bank have been leading in the digital asset space.