Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) underscored the importance of leaders and organizations being purpose-driven at the recently concluded 20th Annual Career Executive Service Conference. Focusing on the Bank’s “Tech-Up Pilipinas” initiative, UnionBank First Vice President and Head of Fintech Business Group Erika Dizon shared how UnionBank’s digital transformation has impacted various efforts geared towards financial inclusion.

In 2017, the Bank introduced The Ark or its branch of the future. This made headlines with its innovative features — being paperless, having “Ark Ambassadors” instead of tellers to provide seamless banking experience to customers. Dizon shared this pioneering effort to highlight infrastructure as a crucial part of the Bank’s tech-up initiative. She likewise pointed out UnionBank’s partnership with fintechs during a time when traditional banks and financial technology companies were being pitted against each other.

When UnionBank embarked on its digital transformation journey, management knew that the quest can’t be done in isolation thus, the Bank openly collaborated with fintechs. Dizon cited how UnionBank has enabled the country’s finance network to benefit even more Filipinos in rural communities through its i2i Network. Short for ‘island to island, institution to institution, individual to individual,’ i2i utilizes blockchain to make universal banking services available to customers in far-flung areas of the country, which are often financially underserved.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Dizon related that UnionBank’s digital capabilities were put to the test and the Bank delivered. It transitioned smoothly to working arrangements that were more appropriate for social distancing; the Bank also ensured that all banking services remained accessible to customers despite having majority of its manpower working from home. In addition, the Bank also reached out to financially-affected Filipinos by helping the government’s Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the efficient and secure distribution of aid or the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Dizon explained that the Bank continues to collaborate with government agencies in their digitization efforts. UnionBank partnered with the Pag-IBIG Fund to launch the Pag-IBIG Loyalty Card Plus, an improved Card with added features including ATM debit functions for easier distribution of loans, dividends, and other benefits. The Bank also worked with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for a convenient e-payment facility that allows corporates and individuals to easily pay their taxes, among others.

Another significant milestone in the Bank’s digital transformation journey was the recent groundbreaking of the UnionBank Innovation Campus, the country’s first-ever learning facility dedicated to innovation. Currently being built in San Pedro, Laguna, — once completed, the Campus will house the Bank’s various centers of excellence; and is seen as a catalyst for the rise of a technology hub in the area. This will provide job opportunities and drive local economic activities.

Equally important, Dizon talked about the Bank’s PeopleTech initiative. UnionBank focuses on empowering individuals through technology and innovation. Its thrust includes upskilling the Bank employees and at the same time contributing to nation building through knowledge sharing that benefits society.

Dizon ended her presentation with an invitation to work together in uplifting lives and enabling a Philippines that is more financially inclusive. “There is a real opportunity to Tech-up Pilipinas, one company and one individual at a time. We believe even more important is that the national and local government will also “tech-up” so people are more engaged. The momentum is there — so let’s take up the opportunity to be a sustainable, inclusive, and world-class competitive and inclusive economy” Dizon said.

“As a banking institution, our purpose is to elevate lives, and we are determined to bring out the maximum potential of the Philippines and we’ll make sure that no Filipino will be left behind,” she concluded.

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