Unionbank, Tech Leaders See Bright Future for Blockchain Tech in PH

One of the country’s top banks and several technology organizations see a bright future in the Philippines for the emerging blockchain technology.

In fact, Union Bank of the Philippines (Unionbank) is leading the country’s pioneer Blockchain Association of the Philippines (BAP).

The BAP is considered the first association in the country leveraging blockchain, the “engine” which runs cryptocurrency, or digital money.

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Unionbank Chairman Justo A. Ortiz, the pioneer chairman of BAP, led the soft-launch of the group at Manila House in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. The bank has been one of the first proponents of blockchain in the country.

With the new group’s formation, it emphasizes the new global technology’s importance in local business.      

Its organizers, which include some of the country’s top industry leaders and organizations, is primarily geared towards providing entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and fintech (financial technology) professionals the information and guidance needed to implement this new technology effectively in their respective businesses.       

Geiser Maclang Network organized the press conference as the pre-event launch for the “Blockchain: Applications and Economics Forum 2018” on May 28-30at SMX Convention Center, SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City.       

It can be recalled that a still mysterious Japanese IT expert (some say a group of persons), who was given the name “Satoshi Nakamoto” developed blockchain and cryptocurrency as he introduced the first digital money called Bitcoin.

He designed blockchain to be open-source and put it on the Internet for free for all the world to use it and further its development. In the digital world, blockchain is at times dubbed as the “second Internet.” 

Blockchain’s design is decentralized (no central authority) and is variously defined as a digital ledger in which transactions through Bitcoin or any other digital money are recorded based on their dates and are made public (in a blockchain network.)         

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Some of the technology’s many uses cover secure recording of land titles, provenance (to prove that you own something), national ID, medical and health certificates, driver’s license, banking transactions, etc.       

It is no surprise then, that, Unionbank is one of the first in the banking and financial industry to leverage blockchain. To further utilize the technology for financial inclusion, Ortiz also announced at the media briefing the launch of the bank’s Project i2i, with some of the country’s rural banks as members.

The Unionbank chairman said the inclusive project offers a real-time, cost-effective, and secure retail payment system on the blockchain. He said that in its “simplest sense, Project i2i is a blockchain-based transaction and payment system that aims to connect rural banks into the country’s main financial network.”

Ortiz considered the project the country’s first blockchain platform for inclusion.

The BAP chairman noted the financial inclusion has not really cascaded to the entire population.

“While the Philippine economy is growing at a rapid rate, data suggests that it is not felt by the majority of Filipinos, particularly the unbanked. Unionbank thinks Project i2i can serve as a catalyst to inclusive prosperity for 35 million (people) unbanked in the country,” he said.

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Technology leaders at the event included Ramon Vicente de Vera, head of Fintech Business Group at Unionbank; Mario Jordan Fetalino III, founder, and CEO of Acudeen Technologies Pte. Ltd.; Vincent Choy, founder and director of Blockchain Asia Forum (BAF) based in Singapore; Silicon Valley tech expert Christian Blanquera, founder of Jobayan and other fintech companies; and Colin Goltra, head, Cryptocurrencies head at Coins.ph.

Mary Rose Magsaysay, chairperson of the Philippine Association for Digital Commerce and Decentralized Industries (PADCDI).

“We believe that to bridge, to cross-pollinate, and to find the sweet spot is our strength. Likewise, technology has become a game-changer as well as a great equalizer,” she said.

Magsaysay introduced PADCDI at the event, saying it is still at its infancy stage, but counts on the “best of the Philippine technology community.”

Ortiz and each one of the IT experts shared insights on the future of blockchain, underscoring the importance of getting on board the blockchain bandwagon or be left behind eating digital dust.

The BAP chairman described blockchain as “game-changer” and that it is vital to use it while noting there is a lot of foundation work still to be done to fully realize its potentials.

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Adoption, he said, is the key to blockchain benefiting the Filipino nation, as he cited the big role the government plays in realizing this potential.

Blockchain Association of the Philippines (BAP) Chairman Justo Ortiz (with microphone) discusses the vital role blockchain technology has on financial inclusion in the Philippines
EDD K. Usman: 1st winner of “Best Science Feature Story” of 2018 UP Science Journalism Award on February 17; winner in June 2014 for Print Media in Kabalikat Award Media Category of PCIEERD-DOST Science Journalism Award; alumnus of United States’ East-West Center 2008 Senior Journalists Seminar; participant of South Korea 2000 Executive Seminar for Information Technology Journalists; senior journalist at Manila Bulletin until April 15, 2016; stringer/contributor at present for Rappler, Newsbytes.ph, Claire Delfin Online Magazine, Malaya Business Insight, Agriculture Magazine (of Manila Bulletin), and U.S.-based Philippine News. Traveled on assignment abroad more than 30 times. Reports about SciTech, IT, ICT, Current Events, and many other subjects under Heaven.

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