UNIONBANK OF THE Philippines, Inc.’s financial technology (fintech) arm is looking to boost e-commerce among small online sellers through its mobile-enabled marketplace application.

UBX Philippines Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer John Januszczak said in an online forum yesterday that the bank is looking to capitalize on its mobile application Sentro that builds online stores and uses Bux as its online payment tool as smaller businesses in the country continue to grow.

Bux enables online payment for all types of transactions, such as supply and delivery of products to small business owners. With this built-in tool, Sentro also connects them to courier mobile applications.

UBX said Bux can be integrated in other e-commerce platforms and has attracted at least 80,000 online sellers. Meanwhile, Sentro drew 17,000 sign-ups from various retailers.

Mr. Januszczak said these tools were developed to address the need of entrepreneurs for simple and affordable business solutions.

“The profile that we thought for these are casual sellers who typically sell over Facebook by fulfilling orders through Facebook or Viber chat. The ones who have aspirations to grow and are viable, something is keeping them from Shopify or Lazada. That’s the gap we want to fill,” Mr. Januszczak said at the virtual media discussion of UnionBank’s 4th E-Talk Tales: UBX: Weaving banking into everyday life.

“Our idea is that something is keeping them from using it. It’s probably cost or complexity or both,” he added.

UnionBank said based on its research, the Philippines has at least two million small online sellers, which it also calls the “shadow market of micro businesses” or “side hustlers.”

These sellers have contributed to the growth of the business landscape in the country, along with the 1.42 million micro, small, medium enterprises in 2019, it said.

The bank said more entrepreneurs have been forced to shift to online selling following the implementation of the nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Mr. Januszczak said UBX is consulting other firms to also upgrade Sentro to offer more “holistic” solutions to businesses as they expand.

“As they move their businesses to digital, they won’t need to access other digital tools. They will need access to digital ways of handling their taxes. Sky is the limit on what they will require,” he said.

He added that UBX remains open to collaborations with other fintech firms and online store providers.

“Not all businesses will ever use Sentro. Bux is an example as it integrates into other e-commerce platforms,” Mr. Januszczak said.

He added that he expects more Filipinos to build businesses in the next years as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to “think out of the box.” — KKTJ