BSP grants full VASP license to UnionBank

UNION Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) on Tuesday said it had been given the go signal by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to operate as a virtual asset service provider (VASP), making it the first and only universal bank in the country to offer such.

The full VASP license means the bank can now extend virtual asset exchange services to a broader base of its customers through the UnionBank Online app.

“[O]ur pursuit of this license isn’t just about staying current, but about being future-proof and future-ready,” Cathy Casas, UnionBank senior vice president, said in a statement.

“The financial landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace, and we want to be at the forefront, ensuring that we are equipped to meet the evolving needs of our clients,” she added.

Virtual asset exchange services were earlier accessible only to randomly selected users of the app through a limited license.

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UnionBank President and Chief Executive Officer Edwin Bautista said that “by obtaining this license, we are not only paving the way for even more groundbreaking opportunities, but also enhancing our digital capabilities and further transforming the way our customers interact with us.”

The bank said the expanded feature, to be rolled out gradually in the last quarter of 2023, would enable UnionBank customers to directly buy and sell Bitcoin using the app.

The adoption of blockchain technology was said to be integral to UnionBank’s future-proofing strategy. The bank said that it was actively exploring potential use cases, including cryptocurrencies, to adapt to evolving customer needs and financial trends.

UnionBank’s share price dropped by 95 centavos to P69 on Tuesday.