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Euromoney's Asian magazine selects PHL's Best Digital Bank.

UNION Bank of the Philippines Inc. (UnionBank) announced it was once again chosen as the Best Digital Bank in the Philippines, award by the Asian publication of Euromoney Institutional Investor Plc. (EIIP).

The publicly listed universal bank said it secured the recognition for the third year in a row.

'The bank's three consecutive wins since 2017 were a natural result of its revolutionary digital innovations to remain competitive in the financial services space, while simultaneously enhancing customer experience and enabling sustainable financial inclusion,' a statement by the UnionBank said.

The UnionBank quoted the EIIP division as saying: 'Its rivals like to say that [UnionBank], led by its President and Chief Executive Officer Edwin R. Bautista, is more talk than action. But the bank can justifiably point to a long list of innovations, eclipsing all other institutions in the country.'

UnionBank said it was also among the five of 30 financial institutions to watch out for in Asia in the digital banking category.

UnionBank added that it began its adoption of technology in banking in 2016 when it started using facial recognition technology and launched the first fully digital bank branch in the Philippines and the country's first banking chatbot. That year, the bank said, it also launched a mobile application that allows clients to bank from their home or office. In just two years, the bank's transformation was cited as the best in the region by EIIP, it said.

UnionBank said it was in 2018 when it became the first bank to introduce the first central bank-compliant, 2-way virtual currency automated teller machine in the Philippines, and first to successfully pilot the use of tokenized fiat in a cross-border transaction from OCBC Bank in Singapore to an account holder in Cantilan rural bank in Surigao del Sur. UnionBank said it was also last year when it became the first bank to launch a stablecoin to provide rural banks under its blockchain-powered platform easier access to remittance and payments.

Most recently, the bank reported that its application programming interface developer portal has generated P3 billion worth of transactions from both corporate and individual customers only three years since its launch. The API developer portal is the interface between UnionBank's full set of APIs-or the bank's various capabilities like bills payment, fund transfers, inquiries, authentication and other functions for public consumption-and their developer stakeholders, particularly fintechs who create new technology to extend financial services to the masses.

UnionBank said it 'is seeing clear signs that its digital transformation, expected to be a multiyear process, is working.'

According to Bautista, UnionBank has 'acquired close to 1 million customers in 2018, and another half a million customers in the first half of 2019.' He added UnionBank has grown its asset base by more than 30 percent to over P700 billion since 2016. 'We have also controlled our operating expense growth to less than 5 percent,' Bautista said, adding that close to 80 percent of UnionBank's interactions with customers are now routed through digital channels.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Sep 30, 2019
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