UNION BANK of the Philippines (UnionBank) said it will meet the central bank’s June 30, 2018 deadline to become fully compliant with the Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) standard, even as it noted challenges in the migration process.

“Yes…we believe we can do that. We’re building momentum on that,” UnionBank Senior Vice- President and Head of Retail Product Development Ramon G. Duarte told BusinessWorld in an interview when asked if the bank can fully migrate to the EMV platform by end-June 2018.

Initially, card-issuing entities had to fully shift to the EMV standard by Jan. 1, as said under the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Circular 859 issued in 2014. But after most banks were unable to complete the shift to the technology as 2017 started, the central bank last June gave lenders an extension of up to June 30, 2018 to comply with the requirement.

Banks would have to face a penalty should they fail to meet the deadline by end-June next year, according to BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr.

“That’s (shifting to EMV technology) a big challenge. I think that’s a challenge for the entire industry. There are some other banks there with larger card bases than we have so doing the full replacement of the EMV is a big challenge,” Mr. Duarte said.

“We think we can make it… we’re comfortable we can make it,” Mr. Duarte said.

The BSP chief had also said they are positive banks would be able to meet the deadline, with the central bank unlikely to grant another extension.

“But we’re working with the BSP, we have constant updates to them. They require us to report our progress, which we do, and we can see that we’re moving… We can see [that] the whole industry is moving,” Mr. Duarte said. “It’s a painful process, but a necessary one.”

EMV technology makes use of microchips rather than the traditional magnetic strip found at the back of cards, which are prone to skimming, usually done by illegally tapping into automated teller machine (ATM) terminals to steal client data. As a result, EMV — an international standard — makes depositors and credit card holders “more secure” against fraud.

UnionBank booked a P2.15-billion net income in the second quarter, down 6.85% from the P2.31 billion recorded in the same period last year and 2.71% lower than the P2.21 billion seen in the first three months of the year.

This brought its earnings for the first half to P4.4 billion, still 11% up from the P3.9 billion posted in the same period in 2016.

Its total assets as of June were at P553 billion, while its loans and deposits were at P265 billion and P434 billion, respectively.

Shares in UnionBank lost five centavos or 0.06% to close at P86.35 apiece on Tuesday. — Janine Marie D. Soliman