Philippines is Among Asia’s Pioneers in Leveraging Distributed Ledger Technology for Bond Distribution

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SINGAPORE – Media OutReach – 27 July 2020
– The Philippine Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), together with Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank)
and Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX), is the first in Asia to launch an
app for the distribution of retail treasury bonds enabled by Distributed Ledger
Technology (DLT). 

Philippine National Treasurer Rosalia V. De
Leon said, “The launch of Bonds.PH paves the way for all Filipinos,
particularly the unbanked, to easily and affordably invest in the BTr’s newest
retail treasury bond, RTB-24 or the Progreso Bonds. The mobile app presents a
compelling opportunity for all to invest and help the Republic raise funds for
economic recovery and COVID-19 response.” 

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The app, called Bonds.PH, makes bond
investing easy. It’s completely digital and available 24/7. Filipinos,
including the unbanked and overseas workers, can invest in retail treasury
bonds by downloading the app and pay using e-wallets, online banking and
over-the-counter for as low as USD 100.  

UnionBank Vice-Chairman Justo Ortiz,
together with Treasurer De Leon, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III,
Central Bank Governor Benjamin Diokno and National Economic and Development
Authority (NEDA) Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, inaugurated the Bonds.PH app at
the recent official launch of the Progreso Bonds. 

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“This is the first retail treasury bond
issuance to leverage on blockchain technology – in Asia, and likely the world,”
said Edwin R. Bautista, UnionBank President & CEO. “The Philippines is
ready to lead the way into the future and tech up the nation with innovative,
inclusive opportunities, powered by emerging technologies, for the benefit of
all Filipinos,” added Bautista. 

Bonds.PH is blockchain-enabled with
transactions recorded in a DLT-based registry in addition to the existing
system. Leveraging DLT enables immutable and tamper-proof record-keeping. 

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
commended the ground-breaking endeavor, “I want to congratulate the
Philippine Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) for this important milestone,” said MAS
Chief FinTech Officer Sopnendu Mohanty.  He
added that, “2020 will be the year of commercialization of blockchain
technology in the ASEAN region, and BTr’s efforts to build a DLT registry for
bond issuance accelerates the success of the most exciting technology of our
time. The blockchain community in Singapore will work together with the
Philippines to share learnings, open-source resources and also facilitate
connecting corresponding nodes to integrate market infrastructure for
transparency and interoperability. The recently released Project Ubin Phase 5
findings by MAS will facilitate the creation of robust blockchain rails for
future value creation.”

Meanwhile, Chia Hock Lai, Co-Chairman of
the Blockchain Association Singapore (BAS) and Chairman of the Singapore
Fintech Association (SFA) said BAS and SFA are one with the MAS in fully
supporting the Philippines and UnionBank in utilizing blockchain for financial
inclusion.

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According to Nichel Gaba, Founder & CEO
of PDAX – a fintech investment of UBX (a UnionBank subsidiary), “DLT or
blockchain technology is governance by design with its cryptography and
programmable smart contracts. This advantage allows the blockchain not only to
preserve truth, but also to automate payments, enforce rules, and facilitate
complex transactions via smart contracts at little to no cost.” 

As such, DLT reduces manual verification and
simplifies reconciliation bringing down processing time and costs. BTr
sanctioned the pioneering effort so that through this it can determine if
leveraging DLT makes retail treasury bond distribution to the unbanked feasible
and economically viable.

The Philippine Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) likewise offered its support. “With our mandate to
facilitate financial inclusion while maintaining investor protection, we support
this initiative, which makes use of Distributed Ledger Technology,” said
SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis B. Amatong. “We look forward to the results
from this initiative, which will contribute greatly to future DLT use cases for
capital markets,” he added. The Philippine SEC is among the more
progressive regulators in the world having released rules on crowdfunding, as
well as draft rules on digital assets and digital exchanges.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Central Bank,
Bangkok Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP), lauded the initiative for its impact on
inclusive prosperity, “Given our advocacy to accelerate the digital delivery of
financial services while deepening financial inclusion, we view Bonds.PH as a
welcome addition to the expanding suite of available financial products serving
wide market segments via innovative delivery channels and bridging the
financially excluded,” said BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno. “From the basic easing
of the public’s access to transaction accounts to now this offering of retail
treasury bonds to the masses in a simplified yet secure manner, shows the
remarkable progress of our shared financial inclusion agenda. This surely marks
the transition of blockchain technology from its buzzword status to a feasible,
production grade solution capable of democratizing access to digital financial
services,” said the Central Bank Chief. 

 “We
look forward to the expansive adoption and success of this initiative and the
public can always count on the BSP to remain supportive of responsible digital
financial innovations,” he added.

UnionBank
Vice-Chairman Justo A. Ortiz, who also serves as Chairman of the Distributed
Ledger Technology Association of the Philippines (DLTAP) and the Philippine
Payments Management, Inc. (PPMI) added that, “Democratizing investment through
digital channels and Distributed Ledger Technology allows all Filipinos to
contribute to and accrue the benefits of nation building. Every Aling Belen and Mang Juan can save and
invest. Download Bonds.PH now from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store
and invest in our country!”

Philippines is Among Asia’s Pioneers in Leveraging Distributed Ledger Technology for Bond Distribution

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