The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated digital transformations globally and across all sectors, prompting businesses and economies to make an abrupt pivot to ride this unprecedented wave of changes.
Some businesses, however, are fortunately well-positioned to go digital even prior to the onset of the pandemic, enabling them to quickly adapt to the “new normal.”
Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank), for one, was able to surpass a challenging 2020 with a strong performance, owing to its digital transformation strategy.
The Aboitiz-led UnionBank said it posted a net income of P11.6 billion in 2020, translating to a return on equity of 11.5 percent, which was significantly higher than the industry average of 6.6 percent. On top of that, it was still able to set aside credit reserves due to COVID-19.
Amid the stringent lockdowns implemented last year, the bank’s digital strategy also addressed the shifts in consumer behavior, as many went increasingly “online” to purchase or provide goods and services. As such, the bank saw great traction in its digital services, including a 300 percent increase in digital takeup with more than 2.2 million digital customers to date, said UnionBank president and CEO Edwin Bautista during the company’s annual stockholders meeting.
Bautista also reported that 43,000 accounts were opened per month via UnionBank Online App during the pandemic, which was 370 percent higher than prepandemic average. The bank, he added, is now the No. 1 bank in ‘send transactions’ via Instapay and No. 2 via PESONet.
“UnionBank is going full throttle in our digital transformation. The bank shall compress its five-year plans into two years by accelerating the digital onboarding of new cus tomers. Our success today was a product of looking ahead into the future and preparing for the evolution of banking,” Bautista said. “We shall continue to launch pioneering solutions and test new technologies.”
It similarly started strong this year, as UnionBank posted a net income of P4.7 billion in the first quarter, up 79 percent from the same period in 2020. The said figure was also 53 percent higher, quarter-on-quarter, despite additional provisions as credit buffer.
Several partners also “teched up” with the bank’s help including the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Bureau of the Treasury. Recently the Supreme Court of the Philippines entrusted UnionBank to “Tech Up” its Judiciary Payment System so its stakeholders can make digital payments to courts nationwide.
“This digital shift motivates us to continue enhancing features across our digital platforms. We recently launched InstaPay 2.0, which enables fund transfers by inputting mobile number or email address. Also, small businesses can now open their business accounts and perform banking transactions digitally with the launch of our SME Business Banking App,” Bautista added.
UnionBank’s digital leadership continues to be recognized as well as it was recently named “Digital Bank of the Year 2021” by The Asset Triple A, holding the distinction of being the first and only Philippine bank to receive the award four years in a row.
“We are confident that the bank’s ‘Tech Up Pilipinas’ efforts, focused on promoting wide-scale digital transformation, would allow all of us to weather this crisis and emerge more resilient than before. Together, we can power the future of banking and help ensure the renaissance of our nation,” Bautista said.