Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) is leveraging its expertise in blockchain technology in a partnership with the non-profit organization Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development – CANVAS to help artists and collectors navigate the emerging non-fungible token (NFT) art space.
The partnership was made official through a virtual signing event last February 17 between Cathy Casas, UnionBank’s Head of Blockchain Center of Excellence (BCOE), Digital Assets Markets Unit and API Marketplace; and Gigo Alampay, Executive Director, CANVAS. They were joined by former Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Popo Lotilla, who introduced CANVAS to UnionBank, and who has set his eyes recently on the transformative potential of blockchain technology especially here in the Philippines.
“Art has always been a powerful tool in creating positive change, and the advent of NFT technology potentially opens up more opportunities for artists to positively impact society through their work,” said Lotilla. “Together with the leading expertise of UnionBank in blockchain, we believe that this partnership will help CANVAS uplift more lives through its advocacy.”
“Through this partnership, we want the public to know that UnionBank supports NFT art and intends to be involved in this emerging space. Primarily, the goal is to empower and educate artists and collectors to mint their own NFT. We also aim to draw attention to CANVAS’s advocacy and artworks so that they may also attract interested buyers and supporters. We are proud of our Filipino artists. Their pursuit of NFT as a new medium is a true example of innovation in action,” said Henry Aguda, Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Technology and Operations Officer and Chief Transformation Officer, UnionBank.
“These are all part of the Bank’s initiative towards exploring new use cases for blockchain technology, and is in line with our ‘Tech-Up Pilipinas’ advocacy and our mission to continuously enhance the Bank’s capabilities and equip our workforce to continuously serve the customers of today and of the future,” Cathy Casas added. “We hope this event signifies one of many partnerships and ventures that the Bank will have in exploring NFT technology and the evolving metaverse economy.”
Under the partnership, UnionBank, through its BCOE, and CANVAS will jointly facilitate an educational program focused on NFTs for artists and collections. This program consists of a series of webinars and a sale and auction of Filipino NFT artworks curated by CANVAS, the proceeds of which will be for the benefit of the latter’s mission to work with the creative community to promote children’s literacy, explore national identity, and deepen public appreciation for Philippine art, culture, and the environment.
Founded in 2005, CANVAS collaborates with some of the country’s best artists and writers to publish and give away pictures and activity books for children. To date, the organization has provided more than 400,000 books to poor and disadvantaged communities and public schools all over the Philippines. Each year, it also mounts art exhibitions and public art events to encourage debate and discussion on socially relevant themes such as human rights, climate change, and internet safety for children.
To help minimize the environmental impact that will result from these efforts, specifically the use of the blockchain network Ethereum, UnionBank will augment its already existing tree-planting activities, including in Ibaan, Batangas at the site of CANVAS’ planned children’s museum of Philippine art, pledging to plant even more trees to offset the potential carbon footprint. The Bank hopes that all of the efforts under the partnership will empower stakeholders in the Philippine art space, enabling them to eventually navigate the NFT space on their own, while helping remove the stigma surrounding NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and other blockchain-based technologies.
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