[Exclusive] BSP Grants UnionBank ‘Limited’ VASP (Crypto Exchange) License

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Editing by Nathaniel Cajuday

[EXCLUSIVE] In a response to BitPinas, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) confirms that it has granted universal bank UnionBank a limited virtual asset service provider (VASP) license while its application is still pending.

Does UnionBank have a VASP License?

The BSP sent the following message to this publication:

“In the case of UnionBank, it has a pending VASP application under evaluation by the BSP. UnionBank, though, was granted a limited virtual asset license, subject to strict implementation parameters set by the BSP,” the BSP confirmed.

At the UnionBank Innovation Summit last September, the bank confirmed the same to BitPinas and also sent the following message when asked for confirmation:

“UnionBank has the BSP nod to offer virtual asset exchange services via our digital asset market traders or using our BitBox cryptocurrency ATM. Most recently, the BSP also approved our limited Beta application version to provide virtual asset exchange service in our UB Online mobile app as well as the pilot implementation of our virtual asset custody services,” UnionBank said.

This publication deemed it necessary to get a response from the central bank after news reports of UnionBank offering crypto trading directly in its mobile app in the future. When it was first announced, the bank was not on the list of licensed virtual asset service providers approved by the BSP.

This led to speculation as to whether a universal bank can offer direct crypto trading even without a VASP license, to which the BSP said no.

In a response to BitPinas, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) confirms that it has granted universal bank UnionBank a limited virtual asset service provider (VASP) license.

Can Universal Banks Offer Direct Crypto Trading Event Without a VASP License?

The BSP sent the following response to this publication:

“Prior to offering virtual asset-related services, such as crypto trading, universal banks – just like other entities – should first secure a VASP license from the BSP.“

Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas

Last month, the bank’s representatives confirmed to BitPinas that it does have a VASP license and has the full permission of the BSP, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to launch the crypto trading feature.

UnionBank said all of its initiatives in the crypto and web3 space have the permission of the BSP:

If UnionBank has a limited VASP License, why is it not on the BSP licensee list of VASP?

Because the publicly available VASP list is for companies with full VASP licenses. The current list includes ABA Global, Appsolutely, Atomtrans Tech, Betur (Coins.ph), Bexpress Inc, BloomSolutions, Coinville, Etranss, Frenetic, i-Remit, Moneybees, PayMaya Philippines (Maya), PHILBIT, PDAX, Rebittance, TopJuan Technologies, WIBS PHP, and Zybi Tech (Juan Exchange). UnionBank’s VASP license is still pending but granted a limited license (refer to the BSP’s reply at the beginning of the article.)

In 2019, UnionBank launched its Crypto ATM in its branch in Ayala Ave, Makati, allowing its users to buy crypto using money from their accounts, to be deposited to the user’s own crypto wallet. The project was launched in partnership with Coins.ph. BitPinas attended the grand launching of the bank’s crypto ATM and documented the experience here.

In 2022, UnionBank’s UnionDigital received approval from the BSP to operate as a digital bank. Digital Bank is a new category of banks and is defined by BSP as banks that don’t have physical branches with all transactions being done online.

This article is published on BitPinas: BSP Grants UnionBank with Limited VASP License

Disclaimer: BitPinas articles and its external content are not financial advice. The team serves to deliver independent, unbiased news to provide information for Philippine-crypto and beyond.

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