UNIONBANK of the Philippines, Inc. is set to launch the first virtual currency automated teller machine (ATM) in the country, allowing customers to buy and sell digital units for cash.
In a recent chance interview with reporters, UnionBank Chairman Justo A. Ortiz said the Aboitiz-led lender will soon launch an ATM for virtual currencies, which will be placed in its concept branch “The ARK” in Makati City.
“We’re going to put up a Bitcoin ATM in our Ayala Ave. ARK [branch]. The machine is here already,” Mr. Ortiz said.
Virtual currency is a type of digital money issued, controlled and used by a certain virtual community.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Etherium and Ripple are virtual currencies that are not regulated by any state or central bank. They rely on cryptography to secure and verify transactions as well as control the creation of more units.
Such currencies can also be used to pay for goods through the internet and can be treated as an investment given its fluctuating valuations.
Mr. Ortiz added that the bank will partner with financial technology firm Coins.ph to enable the system.
In a separate statement, UnionBank said the ATM will provide their clients with an alternative channel to convert peso into virtual currency and vice versa.
The lender added that the move to launch an ATM of this kind is part of its aim to serve the evolving needs of its clients, including those who use virtual currencies.
“That should be interesting. It’s not part of what you do on a daily basis, but it’s cheap now. Maybe it’s time put a few in your drawer,” Mr. Ortiz added.
The usage and trading of cryptocurrencies in the country is legal and regulated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
However, the central bank has noted that it is not endorsing the use of privately-issued cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange given its “highly speculative and volatile” nature. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal