The Philippines – Commercial banking company Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) has unveiled its Open Finance Innovation Hub, the first-in-industry program that will provide an open digital ecosystem for innovation and co-creation in the country.

According to UnionBank, the Open Finance Innovation Hub will provide a platform where various organisations can work together, learn from each other, and create cutting-edge solutions that will drive progress and transformation in the fintech industry.

Last April 13, The Fintech Business Group of UnionBank launched its Open Finance Innovation Hub at the UnionBank Innovation Campus in San Pedro, Laguna. This program promotes open innovation by offering a digital ecosystem that breaks down silos and encourages trust and collaboration. 

The first phase of the Open Finance Innovation Hub starts with a 12-week capacity-building program for start-ups, incubators and accelerators, and venture capitalists to create the innovation ecosystem, whilst the second phase consists of creating an open-source platform.

In this space, collaborators from different industries can publish and consume problem statements, data, and models, becoming the perfect tool to co-create new ideas for innovation.

UnionBank kicked off the launch with contract signing ceremonies that sealed the collaboration between the bank and its first two batches of partners. AHG Lab Chief Operating Officer and Founders Launchpad Program Supervisor Rene Cuartero, LaunchGarage Chief Operating Officer Jojo Flores, Foxmont Capital Partners Managing Partner Franco Varona, and Animo Labs Executive Director Frederico Gonzales make up the first batch of partners.

Meanwhile, Aboitiz Equity Ventures Chief Transformation Officer Emilie Sydney-Smith, UBX Business Lead Mark Gorospe, and Philippine Stock Exchange Chief Operating Officer Atty. Roel Refran comprises the second batch of partners.

“Overcoming the challenges of open innovation requires a willingness to foster a culture of collaboration, to overcome the silo mentality that often inhibits innovation. It requires us to build trust and relationships, because trust is required between partners, which can be built through effective communication, transparency, and a mutual understanding of the end goal,” said UnionBank Fintech Business Group Head Erika Dizon-Go.

“Innovation is in UnionBank’s DNA, and this is why we created this space, to bring together the enthusiasts and experts from different industries, put our heads and minds together, and create ideas and solutions,” said UnionBank Chief Human Resource Officer Michelle Rubio.

Rubio added, “Open innovation matters more now because there is really a need to drive progress and transformation not just in our business, but society in general.”

Manila, Philippines – Commercial banking company UnionBank has announced appointments for its thrift bank subsidiary CitySavings and digital bank subsidiary UnionDigital respectively. They include Ana Aboitiz Delgado as the new chairperson of CitySavings and Henry R. Aguda as the CEO and president of UnionDigital.

Delgado is concurrently serving as the senior executive vice president, chief customer experience officer and chief digital channels officer at UnionBank. 

She took strides in growing UnionBank’s digital customer base via its UB Online mobile app and was the force behind the transformation and redesign of its branches, which elevated the customer experience in physical premises. Additionally, she played a key role in the signing of the game-changing acquisition between Citibank N.A. and UnionBank.

Meanwhile, Aguda was instrumental in the trailblazing digital transformation of UnionBank as its chief technology and transformation officer. Under his term as chairman, CitySavings expanded its reach in the mass and underserved markets by accelerating the approval of teacher and motorcycle loans through the use of data science credit-scoring and acquisition models. 

Aside from Delgado, Lorenzo T. Ocampo was also appointed as vice chairman and CEO of CitySavings, while Manuel G. Santiago Jr. assumed the position of president and chief operating officer of the thrift bank.

“These leadership appointments are key to taking both CitySavings and UnionDigital to the next level of digitally-driven growth and scale, towards our aspiration to be a Great Retail Bank,” UnionBank President and CEO Edwin R. Bautista said.

The new appointments build on UnionBank’s continuing growth in the Philippine retail banking sector, following its acquisition of Citi’s consumer banking business in the country. In an exclusive The Inner State interview with Albert Cuadrante, Union Bank of the Philippines’ chief marketing officer, he shared that the acquisition helped them to grow their banking offering.

“The clear synergies that this acquisition presents us with opportunities to come out with even better products and further elevate our level of service to customers,” noted Cuadrante.

Manila, Philippines — The International Council for Small Business Philippines (ICSB PH) and Union Bank of the Philippines have joined hands to launch a three-day conference and expo for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) for free this coming June 27 to 30. The event is entitled ‘MSME Fiesta Sulong Negosyante’ and will be held at Resorts World Manila in Pasay City.

The expo is part of ICSB and UnionBank’s celebrations for the United Nations’ International MSME Day, which is observed annually every June 27th to raise awareness of the contributions of MSMEs to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

During the three-day event, a number of activities will be held with the goal of helping MSMEs in every aspect of their business. There will be mentoring and coaching to be led by industry experts; opportunities to secure funding from some of the leading financing companies in the country; and learning sessions focused on a wide selection of topics namely access to loans, eCommerce platforms, payment gateways, and digital creatives, among other.

Eric Caeg, founder of ICSB, said, “What’s in it for the MSMEs? We could say we can do these things online, but then again, it’s better for them to see new partners face-to-face and learn new ideas from experts.”

Simultaneously, Jaypee Soliman, UnionBank’s SME and Micropreneurs segment head, shared, “Left and right, so many webinars for MSMEs are happening simultaneously every weekend. I think it’s time that we go beyond that.”

Soliman adds, “What we want to do is to move forward, which is why the name of the event is Sulong! Negosyante. Now, we won’t just be doing talks, but this time we’ll be doubling down on enabling our MSMEs through the activities that we’ve prepared for everyone.”

The event holds tons of surprises for those keen to attend. To make travel to the event site easier, Grab Philippines will be offering a voucher for its users, where they can enjoy a discount on their fare. Those travelling to the event via their own vehicles will also get the chance to take home gas vouchers.

To learn more about the MSME Fiesta Sulong Negosyante, interested individuals can visit Unionbank’s dedicated website registration page for the event.

Philippines – In celebration of Privacy Awareness Week, Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank), in partnership with the Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV), recently held the fourth iteration of its annual privacy and security event ‘SELYADO’ as part of efforts to promote a culture of security and privacy consciousness among Filipino individuals and organisations.

Going with the theme “Safeguarding Data and Information of Individuals, Businesses, and Communities,” this year’s SELYADO focuses on engaging micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in relevant discussions that will help them protect their customers’ privacy and data, which is essential in today’s continuously growing digital economy.

The opening ceremony for the five-week event took place online last 18 May. The event will continue every Wednesday in the next four weeks with the following topics: ‘Data Proficiency for Beginners’ (25 May), ‘Cybersecurity for MSMEs’ (1 June), ‘Updates on DP Regulations and Data Privacy Trends’ (8 June), and ‘Empowering Your Business through Data Governance’ (15 June).

On the discourse of cybersecurity, UnionBank’s Chief Information Security Officer Joey Rufo, said, “We want to use SELYADO 4.0 to touch base with MSMEs to make them aware of how cybersecurity can be a strong value proposition for their business. How a trusted business can enable growth as consumers will only transact with organisations they can trust with their information and money.” 

“As we celebrate Privacy Awareness Week together with the National Privacy Commission, we envision inclusive digital transformation and innovation in aiding MSMEs to cater to the data and information needs of their growing sector—inclusive, because we want to empower them to know how they can protect their data and that of their customers,” said UnionBank’s Data Protection Officer and Head of Artificial Intelligence and Data Policy, Atty. Sasa Montes.

“Together with the Data Privacy Group and the Cybersecurity Team, we bring SELYADO 4.0 with the cybersecurity specialisations that we are very proud of in UnionBank,” said UnionBank’s SME and Micropreneurs Head Jaypee Soliman. 

According to Soliman, their partners are also present in the event to bring their knowledge, expertise, and even their technologies to the MSMEs. “These partnerships are very critical, because this fight cannot be handled by one, it cannot be handled by a few, it has to be all of us together learning, understanding, implementing, and even advocating for our security,” added Soliman.

UnionBank’s Head of Blockchain and API Business Group Cathy Casas was one of the speakers during the event, where she talked about the Metaverse and how the emerging idea of a fully immersive virtual world is changing how organisations think.

“We feel that from the Metaverse, especially as blockchain is embedded here, at least the concept of it, it’s not just important now but it will continue to grow in importance in the coming years,” Casas said.

Atty. Darwin Angeles, also one of the event’s speakers, talked about the importance of developing an intellectual property (IP) strategy and touched on how cybersecurity can help protect a business’ IP, which is typically what sets one apart from the competition. 

“Security infrastructure is very important because we want to protect something that’s important to us, and for a business, intellectual property, or our brand identity that gives us competitive edge, can be that crown jewel for our business for which we want to seek protection for,” Angeles said.

The third speaker, NPC Deputy Privacy Commissioner Atty. Dug Christopher Mah, did a presentation on accountable personal data management for MSMEs, which reiterated that MSMEs must strictly follow the rules set by the commission in order to ensure the privacy and security of customers.

“Data privacy and data security must be part of the core organisation and a strategic concentration for all businesses to safeguard the privacy rights of their customers, especially their data subjects,” Mah said.

In the closing remarks, Dr. David Hardoon, said, “We’re doing this to make sure that security, governance, privacy are a hygiene, and I used the word ‘hygiene’ in its utmost positive and developmental sense, that it is something that facilitates us to develop, to innovate, and build solutions that benefit us, both within the organisation, and of course our consumers.” 

According to Dr. Hardoon, this initiative is ultimately about making sure that privacy is a driver for business development, a driver for innovation, a driver for possibilities.

Philippines — The Board of Directors of Union Bank of the Philippines has approved and confirmed the largest number of executive promotions ever done by the Bank with a total of 74 executive officers. Leading the newly-promoted executive officers is fifth-generation business leader Ana Aboitiz-Delgado, from executive vice president to senior executive vice president effective June 1, 2022.

In her previous roles as the UnionBank’s chief customer experience officer and chief digital channel officer, Delgado took great strides in growing UnionBank Online in terms of user base and features, transforming and re-branding of branches even during the pandemic, and creating the business models for self-service branches and Corporate Ark.

Additionally, she was key in the seamless signing of the game-changing deal between Citi and UnionBank last December 2021 and is now at the forefront of the ongoing integration of both banks.

The Board likewise approved and confirmed the extension of Edwin R. Bautista as the president and CEOofUnionBank until December 31, 2025. Bautista was appointed as the Bank’s president in 2016 and CEO in 2018. Bautista was responsible for starting the Bank’s digital transformation six years ago and has successfully put UnionBank’s name on the global digital map. Bautista was the driving force behind the acquisition of the consumer banking business of American banking giant Citi in the Philippines.

Philippines — City Savings Bank (CitySavings), the thrift subsidiary of Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank), has appointed Henry R. Aguda, chief technology and operations officer and chief transformation officer of UnionBank, as its new chairman of the board. His expertise is expected to boost CitySavings’ digital transformation initiative as the bank envisions helping more people with moderate means.

Larry Ocampo, president and CEO of CitySavings, said, “Aguda brings with him a wealth of expertise that was also instrumental in UnionBank’s successful digital transformation. With his appointment as its new chairman, we are confident that CitySavings will be able to go further in its transformation journey, allowing it to cater to the underserved segment much better.”

On his appointment, Aguda said, “CitySavings has been helping many of our kababayans through accessible financing options, and our priority is to bring these loans to even more potential customers by optimizing the Bank’s existing customer touch points and the infrastructures that support them, powered by AI models created by our Data Science and AI Team.”

CitySavings has seen great results with its initial pilot of AI-driven solutions that utilized historical data to improve customer relevance for loans availed, achieving a conversion rate of 35 per cent in its testing phase. CitySavings also created an in-house credit scoring model to complement its AI capabilities, which resulted in improved turnaround time and enabled the bank to raise its motorcycle loans portfolio to ₱7.06b as of end-March.

CitySavings’s stronger, AI-focused digital push is seen to magnify the success of these projects, allowing the Bank to serve even more customers. With its primary goal of becoming the Philippines’ leading thrift bank, CitySavings sees digital transformation as a necessary step in achieving this goal. By utilizing emerging technologies as well as key learnings from its parent bank UnionBank, CitySavings hopes to shore up its digital capabilities, and in turn, create products and services that are more meaningful to Filipinos.

On the bank’s strives for digital transformation, Ocampo said, “This renewed commitment to digitally transforming our organization will allow us to harness innovation like never before and serve our customers better. CitySavings has always been one with UnionBank in envisioning a future where everyone is empowered by technology and this brand new chapter for us opens new possibilities toward achieving that vision.”

Philippines — Union Bank of the Philippines, whose digital banking division services micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and major e-commerce platform Lazada, have collaborated to enable online sellers to have more options when it comes to bringing their products closer to customers.

With the memorandum of agreement signed last 10 March 2022, UnionBank, through its digital MSME online platform UnionBank GlobalLinker (UBGL), will be creating a special site for all Lazada sellers, while the latter will be doing the same for UBGL sellers. All existing Lazada sellers prior to the partnership will be automatically included.

According to UBGL and Lazada, the joint initiative aims to encourage more sign-ups in both of their respective marketplaces. It will help entrepreneurs expand their online presence much easier, as enlisting with either platform automatically opens up another virtual storefront for them, resulting in more opportunities in doing business with customers.

Signing up offers numerous benefits to sellers. First, they will have access to a dedicated Lazada Onboarding Team. This crew can provide guidance on a number of ideas ranging from selling to strategies; help those who have questions or concerns, and notify sellers about the latest initiatives within the Lazada platform.

In addition, sellers can utilize the following campaign features for free: Members Exclusive Campaign in the home page banner, landing page, and Lazada live, New Seller Campaign Access, and Mega Campaign Access. The first 150 signups will also enjoy service marketplace packages amounting to more than PHP1m in support. These include product photography, product upload, and store builder design, among others.

Lazada will likewise be promoting the UnionBank GlobalLinker platform to its own Lazada Seller Community, so that they too, can reap the benefits of the UBGL Platform.

Jaypee Soliman, vice president and head of SME and Micropreneurs Segment for UnionBank, said that right now, we are, without a doubt, in the golden age of e-commerce in the country.

“We want more enterprising Filipinos to thrive in this period of exponential growth for online shopping, which is why our enhanced partnership with Lazada is very timely. This is all part of our efforts to support the country’s MSME sector, bolster our “Tech-Up Pilipinas” advocacy, and promote inclusive prosperity for Filipinos,” Soliman said.

Carlos Barrera, chief operating officer of Lazada Philippines, commented, “With more MSMEs going online, the partnership with UnionBank is definitely a great step forward in enabling Filipino businesses to grow and scale their e-commerce presence. As we go into our 10th year of empowering MSMEs to go digital, we share an equal mission with UnionBank to continue to uplift Filipino entrepreneurs and further fuel the local digital economy.”

Lazada has been a consistent partner of UnionBank in backing the country’s MSME sector and making online shopping easier for customers since 2020. During the peak of the health crisis, the two companies provided an emergency credit lifeline to Lazada sellers who were heavily affected by the pandemic. In August of the same year, they launched the UnionBank Lazada Credit Card, providing numerous perks to Lazada shoppers.

The service of retail banking plays a significant role in consumers’ financial lifestyle, and as the industry continuously witnesses disruptions, we can expect players in retail banking to continue to undergo considerable development and transformation. This then opens up the competition to devise newer strategies to strengthen businesses and provide customers with an enhanced banking experience.

Last December 2021, we saw this into fruition in the Philippine market. UnionBank, one of the leading banking institutions in the Philippines, specifically, the seventh-largest publicly-listed bank in the country, has revealed that it has decided to acquire Citi’s consumer banking business in the country.

A few months prior to this, Citi has unveiled its new strategy to move its focus to its Institutional Clients Group in April 2021, driving them to finally let go of their consumer banking business in the Philippines. The acquisition by UnionBank entails a ‘share and business transfer agreement’ with various subsidiaries of Citi. Through this, UnionBank’s transactions will now include Citi’s credit card, personal loans, wealth management, and retail deposit businesses. It will also now own Citi’s real estate interests in relation to Citibank Square located in Eastwood, one of Manila’s main shopper destinations; three full-service bank branches, and five wealth centres, as well as two bank branch offices.

For MARKETECH APAC‘s industry deep dive The Inner State, we have invited Albert Cuadrante, Union Bank of the Philippines’ chief marketing officer, to tell more about his insights regarding the marketing implications of the recent acquisition.

Impact of Citi’s exit in the Philippines’ retail banking industry

UnionBank is widely known as one of the most digitally transformed and future-forward banks in the country, with over four million users on its digital platform, while Citi has had the third-largest credit card franchise in the country and is a pre-eminent wealth management provider.

Cuadrante believes that, with the above in mind, the move is a very positive development for the retail banking industry because ultimately, the “real winners here are the customers.” 

He further shared that there is also a minimal overlap, particularly in credit cards which accounts for [a] large portion of Citi’s customer base.

“The clear synergies that this acquisition presents us with opportunities to come out with even better products and further elevate our level of service to customers,” noted Cuadrante.

Uplifting UnionBank’s brand positioning

As per the effects of the acquisition on UnionBank’s brand positioning, Cuadrante said that UnionBank’s aspiration is to be a ‘great retail bank’ focused on growing its consumer retail banking business and led by its digital transformation initiatives. With the recent acquisition, he believes that this will provide them with a transformational opportunity to fast-track their growth aspirations in the retail banking segment.

With Citi being the country’s largest foreign bank and its consumer business offering a superior suite of product offerings in credit cards, personal loans, and wealth management, Cuadrante trusts that UnionBank will be able to benefit from Citi’s expertise in product development, spending management, data intelligence and modelling, portfolio managing and cross-sell, and sales and distribution. 

“This will enable UnionBank to effectively take the business to the next level and further strengthen our value proposition to our customers,” he said.

Citi’s customers transitioning to UnionBank

In terms of adopting Citi’s consumer banking customers, Cuadrante noted that UnionBank is committed to ensuring the quality of products and level of customer service Citi customers are currently enjoying.

He said that customers will have access to UnionBank’s digital channels, a wide range of product and service offerings, and branch network, over and above the existing branches, products, and services of Citi. In addition, customers will be able to benefit from its data-driven decision-making and omnichannel platform offering to enjoy personalised offers tailored to their needs.

Meanwhile, UnionBank plans to retain Citi’s good performance amongst its clients by treating the Citi portfolio as a separate business unit until such time when they are able to fully integrate the systems and practices between UnionBank and Citi.

“Citi, on their part, is committed to supporting the transition and shall continue to provide regional support until we are able to migrate their entire consumer business to our systems and platforms,” added Cuadrante.

The long-term benefit of the acquisition to UnionBank

UnionBank is expecting results in significant synergies for them, particularly from the opportunity to cross-sell products to a larger combined customer base, helping them gain scale and increase profitability and grow their penetration rate.

Cuadrante said that the combined credit card portfolio will bring them to #4 in the industry, up from #10 currently, and within striking distance of the top 3. Citi also has close to one million customers, ranging from the mass affluent to the high net worth, which complements their over 10 million customer accounts today.

“The Citi customer base is largely incremental as there is minimal overlap, particularly in credit cards which accounts for [a] large portion of Citi’s consumer business,” he added.

Manila, Philippines — UnionBank, the seventh-largest publicly-listed bank in the Philippines, has announced that it will now be acquiring Citigroup’s (Citi) consumer banking business in the country. 

In April this year, Citi shut down its consumer business in the country, including 12 other markets such as Australia, China, India, and Indonesia to move the focus to its Institutional Clients Group. For the acquisition, UnionBank said it has entered into a ‘share and business transfer agreement’ with various subsidiaries of Citi.

UnionBank’s transactions will now include Citi’s credit card, personal loans, wealth management, and retail deposit businesses. The acquisition also includes Citi’s real estate interests in relation to Citibank Square in Eastwood, 3 full-service bank branches, 5 wealth centers, and 2 bank branch offices.

Erramon Isidro Aboitiz, UnionBank’s chairman, said that the acquisition further cements its position as a leading bank in the Philippines, and will help fast-track its growth aspirations in the retail banking segment.

Meanwhile, Edwin Bautista, UnionBank’s president and chief executive officer, commented that they look forward to leapfrogging their credit card business and significantly expanding their banking business in the higher-end segment of the consumer market.

“As we embark on this journey, we are committed to retaining all of Citi’s key talents and upholding the superior customer experience that Citi has delivered to its customers over the years,” said Bautista.

UnionBank said that Citi will continue to operate its consumer banking business in the Philippines until the completion of the acquisition, which is expected to close in the second half of 2022. Moreover, approximately 1,750 Citi employees, including senior management, are expected to join UnionBank next year.

Manila, Philippines – One of the leading commercial banks in the country, UnionBank, has partnered anew with creative advertising agency FCB Manila, to launch a new campaign titled ‘Love The Way You Bank’.

Earlier this year, UnionBank and FCB Manila have taken the viewers on a tour in a film inspired by Dante Aleghieri’s Divine Comedy, where the pains of banking were visualized by the circles of hell. 

In the newly launched film, which was created in collaboration with Director Marius Talampas for the second time, viewers will be taken through the usual stages of a romantic relationship, starring the two lead protagonists the customer and the app. Bearing in mind the vision of telling the love story as if it were a real-life documentary, the film lets viewers really feel the ‘love’.

Tin Siapno, UnionBank’s first vice president and digital marketing head, commented that they love how this film mimics how customers feel after using the UnionBank app. 

“It feels good to know that UB Online delivers on its promise and brings so much joy to our customers,” said Siapno. 

Meanwhile, Rab Evangelista, FCB Manila’s creative director, shared, “An idea can really come from anywhere. In the previous campaign, it came from hell. This time around, it came from the heart.”