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Union Bank of the Philippines, commonly known as Unionbank, has announced the upcoming launch of another crypto service for its clients. The financial institution will offer select users of its mobile app the option to exchange bitcoin and other digital currencies without a separate wallet.

Unionbank to Add In-app Crypto Exchange Feature, Reportedly a First in the Philippines

The Union Bank of the Philippines (Unionbank) is working to become the first universal bank in the country to facilitate cryptocurrency exchange within its mobile application. Users will be able to buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin directly from the banking app, the lender said, doing away with the need to have a third-party wallet.

In a statement quoted by the ABS-CBN broadcasting network, Unionbank shared its view that blockchain is a technology that will power the future of banking. “At the same time, we also recognize that cryptocurrency has been one of the services that a lot of customers are already looking for, especially the younger generation, and this demand was accelerated by the pandemic,” commented Cathy Casas, head of digital asset markets, blockchain and application programming.

Unionbank, which is one of the top 10 banks by assets under management in the Philippines, has already established itself as a crypto-friendly institution. About a year ago, it announced preparations to pilot a custody service for cryptocurrencies, and in January of this year, the bank unveiled a plan to facilitate crypto trading.

The new exchange functionality will initially be offered to randomly pre-selected users of the banking app, Unionbank explained, but emphasized it will aim for a wider rollout in the near future. Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, and Chief Transformation Officer Henry Aguda has been quoted as saying:

Not only does this help us ensure that the bank is more future-ready, we are also able to serve the needs of our customers who use cryptocurrencies.

The top executive added that the in-app crypto exchange feature is among the projects the bank is working on as it prepares to enter the metaverse. Another initiative in the same direction is the partnership with NFT game Art of Dreams which was announced in April. The bank also intends to launch a Metaverse Center of Excellence in the coming months.

While the platforms of some digital banks in the Philippines, like Maya, are already offering exchange options for crypto assets, Unionbank will be the first major traditional lender to implement one. The bank is a licensed cryptocurrency exchange. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the country’s central bank, is the authority that issues licenses to crypto trading platforms and service providers in the Philippines.

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