Philippine's best digital bank 2018: UnionBank
Edwin Bautista, president and chief executive of Union Bank of the Philippines, has serious digital ambitions. His financial institution is the country’s standout digital bank, and a worthy winner of this award. But this is just the start. A trailblazer in artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, Union Bank is using blockchain to reach rural lenders, partnering with ConsenSys and Microsoft Azure to develop a blockchain-based interbank switch.
Its online adventure started two decades ago, when it launched the forerunner to EON, the first digital banking service in southeast Asia to roll out so-called ‘selfie’ banking, which enables customers to open an account or take out a loan using facial recognition technology. And it continues to innovate, recently launching The Ark, the nation’s first fully digital bank, described by Bautista as a “third space” where clients can chat with staff, while entrepreneurs mingle and share ideas.
Union Bank hopes to have 15 Arks in place by the end of 2018. Union Bank Online, a recently launched retail banking platform, allows customers to view all their accounts on any digital platform, whenever and however they want. Then there’s the ‘Rafa’ chatbot, the first of its kind in the Philippines, which handles debit and credit card activations, and provides details of recent transactions.
Union Bank reckons 80% of all interactions with customers are now routed through digital channels, a ratio that seems likely to rise as the bank continues its inexorable transformation.