Filipino banking giant UnionBank has thrown its hat in the non-fungible token (NFT) race by launching a trading platform for digital collectibles. The platform is the brainchild of UBX, the fintech arm of the bank, in partnership with art-tech startup Unit 256 Ventures.
Dubbed “Artifract,” the platform is considered the Philippines’ first tokenized NFT platform, making use of a first-of-its-kind “token factory technology” that allows for the tokenization of real-world or digital assets on distributed ledgers.
One key feature of UBX’s offer is the “fractionalization” of collectibles, allowing beginners and enthusiasts to participate in the NFT markets. Through fractionalization, one NFT piece can be owned by multiple persons in a move designed to be cost-effective.
“Our participation in the digitalization and fractionalization of art is very much in line with our goal of financial inclusion. The bedrock of Artifract is inclusivity, and through this process, art ownership is no longer within the exclusive province of the upper class, but is now brought closer to the average Filipino,” John Januszczak, CEO of UBX, said.
Erica Dizon-Go, head of the business fintech group at the bank, remarked that people “do not need to be an expert trader for NFTs” because of the platform’s seamless interface, which allows users to understand the concept in no time.
NFT adoption in the Philippines is reaching frenetic levels, with both retail and institutional players getting in on the action. In the middle of the pandemic, Filipinos turned to NFT gaming platform Axie Infinity in droves to augment their incomes while others began speculating on digital currencies.
Dizon-Go stated that the future remains bright for the industry, and “we will still see more platforms where people build their NFTs and put them out to the market.”
UnionBank’s unwavering support of digital assets
The launch of the NFT service is not the first time UnionBank is exploring virtual assets. In August, the bank announced the launch of an in-app digital currency exchange feature. The move will allow users to buy, sell and hold virtual currencies directly from the bank’s mobile application without using third parties.
“At the same time, we also recognize that cryptocurrency has been one of the services that a lot of customers are already looking for, especially the younger generation, and this demand was accelerated by the pandemic,” according to the bank’s head of digital asset markets.
In the Philippines, Maya and a host of digital banks are pivoting toward offering digital asset services under the watchful eyes of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the country’s central bank, which is the main regulator of the industry.
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