July 26, 2019 – UnionBank of the Philippines launched the stablecoin called PHX to facilitate a blockchain-based cross-border remittance transaction. In doing so, it makes them the first bank in the Philippines to launch a stablecoin and conduct remittances via blockchain.
In a recent report, UnionBank facilitated sending money from OCBC Bank in Singapore to Cantilan Bank in Surigao. Cantilan is part of UnionBank’s UBX Project i2i which connects rural banks together. Other rural banks who made the live transactions include Summit Rural Bank and Progressive Bank. To do this blockchain-based transaction, the cryptocurrency PHX (which is a stablecoin pegged to the Peso) is used for the transfer. According to UnionBank Senior Vice President and Head of Fintech Business Group Arvie de Vera, PHX is a “stable source of value and medium of exchange.” Because it is a programmable token with self-executing logic, it can enable automatic execution of payments through the blockchain.
Comparison to XRP and Bitcoin
Because PHX is backed by the Philippine Peso, it minimizes volatility during the transfer of value (money). The value of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin fluctuates wildly every second. Of course, comparing PHX to Bitcoin might not be a good idea since these days, more people are keeping Bitcoin as a store of value rather than as a medium of exchange (not to mention the longer transaction time.) We can compare blockchain-based remittance transactions done with PHX versus those done with XRP, the cryptocurrency powering Ripple’s payment platform. In a recent interview with a local paper, Ripple exec Eric van Miltenburg said, “because transactions happened almost instantly, the volatility is minimal,” arguing that there is more volatility between PHP and USD versus XRP and PHP.
However, it should be noted that PHX is used this time as the stablecoin for Project i2i, an initiative the connects rural banks to the main banking network. Remember that rural banks are not members of SWIFT and all those other bank networks, which effectively makes their services limited and processes lengthy. For example, transfer of many may take more days and will entail “20+ processes,” as mentioned previously by Cantilan Bank Senior Executive Tanya Hotchkiss in an event last year.
XRP and Ripple are partnered with Moneygram (and other undisclosed partners) while PHX and Union Bank are with Project i2i serving rural banks. This means both XRP and PHX are providing solutions to different bank and non-bank institutions, but still serving the market – the unbanked. In a previous interview with BitPinas, when PHX was still called UPHP, Mr. Arvie de Vera gave some reasons on why UPHP (now PHX) is superior versus other e-Money. PHX is bank-backed and blockchain-based, which means it can do immediate settlement and is more cost-effective.
“Being bank-backed and approved by the Bangko Sentral, the UPHP blockchain-based token distinguishes itself by it having a stable value backed by trusted institutions.” – Arvie de Vera, UnionBank SVP & Head of Fintech Business Group
PHX is currently available to Project i2i participants. They can buy the stablecoin and debit to their UnionBank accounts. UnionBank plans to have PHX useable to various platforms and wallets globally.
This article is first published on BitPinas: UnionBank Launches Cryptocurrency (Stablecoin) PHX