The development and use of technology have grown rapidly over the past few years, and this advancement has no doubt been boosted by the pandemic as interactions and transactions have been forced to move to contactless or digital modes. But while innovations continue to be churned out at a rapid pace, tech literacy appears to be lagging. Social media hacking, text scams, and other threats remain rampant, thus the need to further fortify our country’s cybersecurity.
It is also becoming more apparent that businesses that make use of these new technologies must also be responsible for their management. It is no longer enough just to be able to pivot to digital; companies must also help keep the users they serve safe. This is what companies like UnionBank and various telecommunication service providers are working towards.
Responding to the need for cybersecurity
Last September, the Private Sector Advisory Council’s (PSAC) digital infrastructure group initiated an alliance among local telecommunication companies (telcos), which aims to “strengthen cybersecurity and combat financial crimes through fraud prevention and data sharing measures,” PSAC said in a statement.
The alliance, marked by a signing of a memorandum of understanding, was forged between executives of UnionBank of the Philippines, Globe Group, Smart Communications, and Converge ICT Solutions. This is the group’s first step in responding to the National Privacy Commission’s (NPC) Advisory Opinion 2021-06 with regard to fraud investigations.
The memorandum calls on the member telcos to create a framework that will allow all to share relevant data that can aid in profiling and identifying cybercriminals. With this, obtaining information for cybercrime investigations can be done faster, “without requiring a very lengthy court order.”
Another provision of the memorandum of understanding is the creation of Quick Response Teams by each member company. Each team is set to be composed of cybersecurity experts who can prevent, monitor, report, and resolve any incident or issue.
“Digital banking has brought significant growth for UnionBank and even better user experience for our customers during the pandemic. The benefit of being able to do your banking anytime, anywhere helped Filipinos make it through the crisis. Through this growth, we have seen opportunistic cybercriminals take advantage of citizens who are still in the midst of transitioning from branch banking to online banking”
—Henry Aguda, UnionBank chief technology operations officer and chief transformation officer
“Together with our telecommunications partners, Globe, Smart, and Converge, we want the digital Filipino to be protected from cybercrimes by ensuring that cybercriminals cannot hide behind the anonymity of prepaid numbers and the internet. We will hold them accountable. We want Filipinos to trust the banking system and their communications systems,” Aguda added.
In addition to this alliance, UnionBank has also partnered with Asia Pacific College to improve cybersecurity and information security education, specially tailored for their third-party vendors. Asia Pacific College is the educational partnership of SM Foundation and IBM Philippines and is the only higher education institution with strong industry-academe linkages across its curriculum. UnionBank’s enterprise networking platform UnionBank GlobalLinker and MSME Business Banking Group will work together with the college to create security risk management courses.
The aim of the program is to develop their third-party vendors and partners to be up to par with global cybersecurity standards.
Despite bumps in the road, development must continue. This is, after all, the spirit of innovation that drives us all toward the future. After taking the necessary steps to address threats and challenges to our current technology, it is also important to keep pushing forward in creating not just new solutions, but new products, services, and technologies as well.
Acknowledging this need to continue fostering and inspiring creativity, UnionBank has also recently put up a Patent Wall at the UnionBank Innovation Campus in San Pedro, Laguna. The Patent Wall highlights and recognizes the intellectual property milestones of the company’s inventors and innovators.
The Patent Wall currently features 16 patent registrations—all issued by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines to the bank from May 2020 to the present. These patents involve various technologies that the bank now uses in providing a better digital banking experience for its customers. Among these advanced and new banking and financial technologies include the use of blockchain, artificial intelligence, and data analytics.
These technologies have seen direct applications in UnionBank’s products and services, such as the UnionBank mobile app, The Portal, The Ark, akin, XLOG, Project i2i, PHX Stablecoin, Financial Supply Chain, and GC Blockchain.
“This wall highlights the people behind our products and services, their ideas, and the continuous innovation of UnionBank. We credit the people behind these and their brilliant ideas that created significant impact and breakthroughs that allowed the transformation we are proud of today.”
—Joey Rufo, UnionBank chief information security officer
While the Patent Wall currently features 16 patent registrations, Rufo also revealed that UnionBank has more than 40 patents still pending registration.
“To us, this wall is a reminder that we never stop, regardless of how far we think we have already reached,” Rufo added.