UNIONBANK of the Philippines, Inc. targets to launch its digital bank in the second half of the year.
“We would like to clarify a recent statement made regarding the launch of UnionDigital. We are ensuring an amazing experience for our customers with ongoing due diligence. UnionDigital is targeted to launch in the 3rd or 4th quarter of this year,” the bank said in an email on Friday.
UnionBank’s First Vice President and Head of Fintech Group Erika Dizon-Go had said in a briefing last week that Union Digital Bank is targeted to be launched this month.
“We are hoping it would be a big contributor to the main bank as well,” she added.
UnionDigital was given a digital banking license by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in July 2021.
Digital banks are expected to help the central bank reach its goal to bring 70% of Filipino adults into the banked population and have 50% of payments done online by 2023.
During an online briefing, Ms. Go said open finance will also help the banks reach more unserved individuals.
“Aside from the infrastructure and connectivity, aside from the rules and regulations that they have set for the market players, it’s also showing the people that open banking and open finance is here, … not just to serve the financial institutions, but it’s here to serve the general population so that they become a part of the financial workplace,” she said.
Ms. Go said through open finance platforms that enable interoperability, over one million of UnionBank’s clients have been able to link their accounts to e-wallets and e-commerce platforms.
“What we did was that we partnered with counters so that you can still receive funds even if you’re in far-flung areas [using] a UnionBank account. You get the cash in these counters instead where there are more widespread locations,” she said.
“This movement is definitely the next step, but as I mentioned earlier, we are not going to leave anyone behind. There are still (people) who feel better with passbooks and paper transactions. We completely understand that that demographic will still continue,” Ms. Go added. “But slowly, I think the system or the space will transform, maybe not immediately but in the next decade. And that’s what we are preparing for.”
She said the bank hopes to increase its digital banking clients to two million from one million currently through open finance.
The official added that the bank hopes to further expand its open finance and digital banking services, such as allowing clients to link their accounts with investment companies or stock brokerages for easier investing.
The Aboitiz-led lender’s net income dropped by 45% to P2.608 billion in the first three months of the year.
UnionBank’s shares closed unchanged at P76.50 apiece on Tuesday. — K.B. Ta-asan