Union Bank launches first crypto ATM in the Philippines

In a bid to promote Bitcoin adoption in the country, Union Bank has announced its plans to launch its first crypto ATM in the Philippines with the approval of the country’s central bank. 

February 18, 2019 | AtoZ Markets – The Union Bank of Philippines is reportedly planning to launch one of the country’s first two-way cryptocurrency ATM, as per a local media news outlet, Philstar.

This initiative from Union Bank is part of its sandbox project — a framework for letting its customers experiment crypto transactions with the ATMs in a controlled environment. This move, however, is in line with the specifications of the central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). 

Crypto ATMs in the Philippines coming soon

According to a report, the cryptocurrency ATMs will allow their users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using fiat. However, the report did not mention which coins will be supported in the experiment. According to the publication, Union Bank said in a statement:

“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.”

While Union Bank is the bank is yet to fix a specific date for the launch of the ATMs, this project is likely to promote Bitcoin adoption in a country that has already adopted proactive measures towards the crypto industry. Earlier, a picture of the upcoming Union Bank crypto ATM was posted on social media by Twitter user Mike Abundo.

Being one of the largest banks (in terms of assets) with over 300 branches, Union Bank, according to Philstar, reported 7.32 billion Philippine pesos (about $140 million) in 2018 earnings.

Philippines central banks regulatory framework for crypto exchanges

In the Philippines, the central bank has put together a regulatory framework for local crypto exchanges following the rise in the use of digital coins in the country.

In accordance with the Circular 944, dated February 6, 2017, crypto exchanges are mandated to register with the BSP, as remittance and transfer companies before them, offering services in the Philippines. The circular also requires theses cryto exchanges to ensure that adequate security is in place to address the risks associated with cryptocurrencies, as well as AML and consumer protection measures.

The central bank has, however, maintained that it does not endorse the use of any cryptocurrency. It intends to regulate them when used for delivery of financial services, particularly, for payments and remittances.

What crypto ATMs are

Wikipedia defines Bitcoin ATM this way,

“A Bitcoin ATM is a kiosk that allows a person to exchange Bitcoin and cash. Some Bitcoin ATMs offer bi-directional functionality enabling both the purchase of Bitcoin as well as the sale of Bitcoin for cash. In some cases, Bitcoin ATM providers require users to have an existing account to transact on the machine.”

From outside, crypto ATMs look identical to traditional ones used in dispensing fiat currencies. However, crypto ATMs does not dispense physical Bitcoin. As you know, they are virtual currency.

It also worthy of note that Bitcoin ATMs are not connected to a bank account. Instead, they connect their users directly to a Bitcoin exchange.

Crypto ATMs are quite faster in processing transactions than the usual online crypto exchanges and they have been reported to have fewer complications when compared to those online systems. You can learn more about them here.

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