UNO Digital Bank eyes offering crypto trading on app

MANILA – UNO Digital Bank will eventually offer cryptocurrency investments on its app, its top official said on Wednesday, despite the sector’s steep slump following the collapse of global player FTX. 

Manish Bhai, founder and CEO of UNO Digital Bank said the FTX bankruptcy has not affected their plans to offer crypto investments to clients. 

“What we want to achieve, and what our goal is, is just a single interface to meet all your life’s financial needs. Which is save, borrow, transact, protect, and invest. Now when you look at invest, to complete the investment proposition, at some stage cryptocurrency is a key ingredient of that,” Bhai said. 

But Bhai also clarified that they won’t be pursuing crypto trading soon. 

“We think that our strength is our own balance sheet, and we really want to focus on building the deposit book, and the loan book. Then focus on insurance which we are starting and then investments, and then we will look at life side, and other factors like crypto which will come in 2024.” 

CRYPTO’S NOT DEAD?

Marvin Germo, a Registered Financial Planner and known cryptocurrency investor and enthusiast said FTX’s collapse will make the cryptocurrency sector stronger. 

He said FTX’s downfall was caused by fraud and mismanagement and not the failure of Bitcoin as a decentralized asset and coin. 

“I think this hurts for the short term but for the long term it will do the following: usher in regulation that will try to clamp down on this; weed out the bad actors in this space; force investors to be more discerning; put into focus good cryptocurrencies and projects; and push people to put their crypto in (safer) hot or cold wallets (online/offline storage devices).”

Germo added that “FTX isn’t big” in the Philippines. 

“I think for Filipinos they got hit from a contagion standpoint as it brought all coins down and sentiment and trust as a whole,” Germo said.

Despite the rout in the crypto market, interest in digital assets remains high.

Based on data from We Are Social, as of October this year, 23.7 percent of Filipino internet users aged 16 to 64 own some form of cryptocurrency. That is the third-highest percentage of respondents in We Are Social’s Global Statshot Report. The worldwide average is just 12.3 percent. 

The Philippines’ largest fintech firms meanwhile are either offering or set to offer crypto trading.

Fintech giant Maya has been offering crypto trading since April of this year. Maya has yet to respond to requests for data on how many of its users actually use the crypto feature, but sources from within the company say demand and interest have been steady.

GCash meanwhile is preparing to launch its own crypto investment feature. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission meanwhile notes the Philippine government is still working on regulations to cover the ownership, sale, and purchase of all forms of digital assets. 

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, virtual currency transactions grew 362 percent in June 2021 from the same period the year before. The total value of those transactions hit P105.93 billion, up 71 percent year-on-year. The data come from Philippine Central Bank registered Virtual Asset Service Providers.

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