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UnionBank’s ‘The ARK’ hosts second crypto ATM



Union Bank of the Philippines’s (UnionBank) The ARK branch will host the country’s second cryptocurrency ATM following the first rollout in March this year.

Catherine Anne Casas, head of Blockchain Business Development of UnionBank’s Fintech Business Group, said the bank is learning valuable information from customers’ feedback since they rolled out the country’s first crypto ATM. It was also the first bank-operated crypto ATM in the world.

“We also want to learn from our customers,” Casas said. “We would like to have their feedback so we’ll know how to serve them better. We are careful in handling this project because our priority has always been to protect our customers and provide a safe environment at which they can purchase cryptocurrency.”

UBP’s two-way crypto was unveiled in March at the bank’s first The ARK branch in Ayala, Makati as part of its “sandbox” initiative by allowing its customers to use the machine to buy and sell digital currencies for cash.

The ATM currently supports only Bitcoin, but UnionBank president Edwin Bautista said the number of tokens to be supported would increase soon.

According to Casas, they are thinking of adding more cryptocurrencies but will first ensure to get the nod of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Once approved, the number of coins the crypto ATM supports will increase, and hopefully, the number of users as well.

In February, the BSP issued Memorandum 2019-006 informing banks that conversions and withdrawals from cash to digital coins using ATM are considered as digital currency exchange transactions and require registration with the regulator.

Last year, the central bank issued regulations requiring all companies engaged in exchanging fiat currencies into digital assets and vice versa to register with the BSP.

For its second crypto ATM, UnionBank is looking at the five other The ARK branches launched in March to host the machine.

The ARK branches are located at the UnionBank Plaza in Pasig City; 32nd Street in BGC; Dasmarinas GACU in Binondo, Manila; Cebu Insular in Cebu City and Davao Magsaysay in Davao City.

“Want to make sure that we do it right,” Casas said, adding that educating their customers about digital currency and balancing this with helping them understand the risks involved are the primary concerns of the bank.

“We want to roll out these new technologies while protecting them,” she said.