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David Drake

April 1, 2019 Article

Can Two-way ATMs Propagate Philippines’ Cryptocurrency Industry? 

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are common and vital in today's financial world. They ease access to funds for users so they don't have to physically visit bank premises. Similarly, cryptocurrency ATMs are important in the cryptocurrency industry. To foster global adoption to happen, cryptocurrency ATMs need to be installed in urban centers. Already, it is estimated that 4392 cryptocurrency ATMs have been installed across 77 countries, with the US accounting for nearly 60% of them.

A 2018
report shows the global cryptocurrency ATM market will grow by $128.2 million by 2023. This growth will largely be driven by two-way ATMs where customers can convert digital currency to fiat currency and vice versa. This forecast is already being realised as the number of two-way cryptocurrency ATMs is on the rise.

Progressive Philippines
Last month, Philippines' Union Bank installed the country’s first two-way cryptocurrency ATM. The bank noted that with this launch, it aims to cater for its digital currency customers’ tastes and needs by enabling conversion of cryptos to and from the country’s official currency, the Peso. Expansion plans were however not mentioned as the bank, in partnership with the country’s central bank is still experimenting with this service.

Philippines has been one of the countries that has been receptive towards the cryptocurrency industry. Last year, the country’s largest crypto-exchange revealed that the number of clients on its platform has reached 5 million. This growth has been driven largely by an enabling regulatory environment.

In February 2017, through the published circular number 944, the central bank in the country recognized the legality of digital currencies by establishing a regulatory framework for crypto exchanges. In the previous year, the country had drafted progressive initial coin offering (ICO) and exchange regulations as well policy measures that are informed by Switzerland's Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

Right Direction
In a country that has three crypto exchanges, the launch of the two-way ATM could catalyze the growth of the cryptocurrency industry not just in Philippines, but also Asia in general. According to Navjit Dhaliwal, CEO at Iagon, the size of Union Bank and its relevance to the region will certainly push the market further.

He notes, “With the budding growth of the economy throughout the country, these new developments are set to increase the Philippines ability enhance their cryptocurrency sector. With Union Bank being among the top ten largest and most profitable banks throughout the country, their mark of approval will certainly push the market further. Moreover, the fact that this move will enable individuals to buy and sell their selected cryptocurrencies for cash, through this simple system, is a nod in the direction of innovative priorities that will enable and enhance overall growth.”

Further, the bank is likely to experience significant growth if it embraces active governance and inspires trust among its clients. As Asia continues to dominate the cryptocurrency market, such enabling technologies might just put the region at the center of global cryptocurrency adoption.

 Disclaimer: David Drake is on the advisory board for most of the firms mentioned or quoted in this article.

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