SEC Approves UnionBank Digital Arm

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By Shiela Bertillo

Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) said that it received the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to put up a digital banking subsidiary.

UnionBank, through a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), said that the articles of incorporation and by-laws of Union Digital Bank Inc. were ratified by the SEC on November 25.

Edwin Bautista, UnionBank president and chief executive officer, earlier said the wholly owned subsidiary would start commercial operation next year.

To date, the bank has raised its authorized capital to P35.31 billion from P23.11 billion to raise funds to bank roll future growth opportunities.

Last July 15, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) awarded a digital banking license to UnionDigital making it the fourth digital bank in the country. The application for a digital bank licence is part of the bank’s initiative to conform to the rapid digitalization during the current pandemic. (Read more: UnionBank to Launch Digital Bank in 2022)

Currently, including UnionDigital, the central bank approved a total of 6 digital banking licenses. The banks are Overseas Filipino Bank of LandBank of the Philippines (March 25, 2021); Tonik Bank of Singapore (June 3, 2021); UNObank of Singapore (June 3, 2021); GOtyme of Robinsons Bank Corp. (August 12, 2021); and Maya Bank, owned by PayMaya of PLDT Inc. (September 16, 2021).

On August 19, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno announced that the Monetary Board approved the closure of windows for the establishment of digital banks and limiting the number of licenses to seven. However, despite having nine other applicants that managed to beat the Aug. 31 filing deadline, none of them qualified for the seventh and last digital banking license slot after failing to submit complete requirements to the regulator.

Aside from its digital bank advance, UnionBank is also venturing into the cryptocurrency space and last August, it partnered with  Hex Trust, a Hong Kong-based digital asset custodian. The collaboration will provide digital asset custody services as the bank enters the digital asset servicing sector. UnionBank aims to pilot crypto custody service in the country. (Read more: UnionBank to Provide Crypto Custody)

Consequently, Last September, UBX, the fintech arm of UnionBank of the Philippines, announced during the Cardano Summit 2021 the launch of its public stake pool on Cardano, an emerging proof-of-stake blockchain platform. (Read more: UnionBank’s UBX Now Runs A Stake Pool on Cardano)

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