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UnionDigital Bank eyes entry into NFT market

Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines Inc. (UnionBank) announced last week its entry next year in the market using non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

During a virtual media roundtable last December 15, UnionDigital Bank Inc. CEO Ramon Vicente V. de Vera said UnionBank’s digital lender has kept a keen interest on NFTs. With around 250 financial technology companies (fintechs) currently operating in the country, de Vera said the market is ready to accept this blockchain-based technology.

Stored on a blockchain, an NFT is a non-interchangeable unit and a form of digital ledger. Nowadays, NFTs are popularly associated with reproducible digital files such as photos, videos and audio. Through its digital ledger, NFTs provide a public certificate of authenticity or proof of ownership.

Moreover, de Vera cited a bright prospect for cryptocurrency in the country with 4.36 million owners.

“We are also the top in the social- media usage in the world six years in a row,” he added. “The Philippines is also number one in Internet usage in the world averaging 10 hours and 56 minutes per day.”

Unionbank Senior Executive Vice President Henry Rhoel R. Aguda said the bank is currently partnering with a non-government organization in the usage of NFT selling artworks in the market.

Underserved sectors

AGUDA, also the lender’s chief technology and operations officer and chief transformation officer, said UnionBank’s digital transformation journey has enabled the bank to weather the challenges brought by Covid-19.

“The pandemic created this shift to digital, which we now refer to as the ‘new digital normal.’ We changed the way we live, the way we travel, the way we interact with one another and, basically, we’ve changed forever in terms of how we transact in the financial sector,” he said.

To note, Unionbank is the only publicly-listed Philippine bank to be granted a license to operate a digital-native bank.

According to de Vera, they will focus on delivering banking and financial services to underserved sectors.

“While UnionDigital aims to empower the country’s digital economy, we also aim to elevate it by bringing trust and governance into the space,” de Vera said. “We embrace innovation like a fintech, but offer all the powers, experience and track record of a fully-regulated bank.”

Plans, promises

DE Vera said they will ensure that customers “have what they need in terms of security, compliance with regulation and proper governance.”

De Vera issued this statement days after a Unionbank account named to a certain “Mark Nagoyo” received funds from hacked-accounts of BDO Unibank Inc.

Aguda said UnionBank will launch several new solutions aimed at helping workers in the thriving gig economy. He added the bank will participate in the growing interest and opportunities relating to the metaverse.

UnionBank Chief Marketing Officer Albert Raymond C. Cuadrante promised the bank “will continue to do even better” in 2022 in terms of delivering “great customer experience across channels and platforms.”

He also reiterated that “UnionBank’s goal is not just to help people survive, but to actually enable them to thrive in this new environment through the latest financial technologies.

Unionbank’s stock price opened strong at P104 on December 15 after closing at P103.90 the day before. The stock marked a trading volume of 80,640 and settled lower at P103 at the closing of trade last December 15.

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