Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) was declared the “Bank of the Year 2020” in the Philippines by The Banker, regarded as the industry standard for global banking excellence.
The prestigious award is given to the institution that has “outshone its peers in terms of performance, strategic initiatives and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” In a statement, The Banker recognized UnionBank’s”bold efforts to push for greater financial inclusion through its fintech and corporate venture capital arm named UBX.”
UnionBank was lauded for its spinoff UBX’s focus on the development of four new ventures, namely i2i, SeekCap, Bux, and Sentro. In partnership with the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines, i2i mainly used blockchain technology to bring unbanked communities in rural areas to digital banking.
Meanwhile, the other three ventures were focused on assisting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to grow and thrive amid the pandemic.
SeekCap, for example, is an online lending marketplace which supports MSMEs by providing them with sources of credit without having to fill in lengthy loan applications.
To help MSMEs convert their brick-and-mortar shops to online ones, UBX also supported payment gateway Bux and digital shop builder Sentro. Bux can be integrated into an online seller’s platform while Sentro helps entrepreneurs set their online shops. Sentro has built-in protections for both the sellers and buyer and logistics services.
The Bank upped its game in providing the best digital banking experience through the enhancements of its mobile app, UnionBank Online. Digital banking customers are now able to move between devices more easily as it has combined its two previously separate desktop and mobile banking portals.
It is also upgraded with features like QR code payments, real-time digital account opening and digital cheque deposits.
To date, UnionBank Online has enabled billions worth of fund transfers, bills payments and load purchases every month.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted how people in rural areas faced difficulties in obtaining cash due to low numbers of branches and ATMs. In response, UnionBank established a scheme to allow app users to send money for collection from remittance counters. The scheme was used in particular by urban workers sending money home to their families.
In his acceptance speech, UnionBank President and CEO Edwin R. Bautista said, “This is truly a singular honor for our team at UnionBank. This award is for all UnionBanker who kept the faith in our digital transformation four years ago, who believed in what we can achieve together, and who today are leading the charge. We may look like a different bank today, but our purpose remains the same: to elevate lives and fulfill dreams.
With a challenge as massive as the COVID pandemic, technology is just a means to an end and not an end in itself. Ultimately, it is our UnionBank DNA that is now ‘Digital to the Core’ that is pulling us through. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ‘Tech Up, Pilipinas’ and enable inclusive prosperity making sure that NO ONE, not our customers, not our colleagues, not our countrymen, GETS LEFT BEHIND,” Bautista said.