UnionBank opens fully digital branch in bid to address banking ‘pain points’

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UNIONBANK of the Philippines (UnionBank) unveiled its new fully digital branch on Monday, which aims to provide customers a new banking experience.

Said to be the first digital bank branch in the Philippines, “The ARK” eliminates the common elements in a bank branch such as queues and paper forms. Instead, customers will be entertained by “bank ambassadors,” and sit-down transactions will be done through mobile tablets.

“The ARK was established by UnionBank to address the common pain points in banking — falling in line, getting a number before being attended to,” UnionBank Chief Operations Officer Edwin R. Bautista said in a statement, noting that the new branch is also meant to satisfy the diverse and changing needs of its customers.

Tagged as a “paperless” branch, UnionBank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Justo A. Ortiz said The ARK is part of the bank’s bid to change the way customers perceive banking.

“Instead of a transactional space, we thought that we needed to make an interactive space where our customers can interact with us, where they can interact with each other,” Mr. Ortiz said at the launch.

Self-service kiosks, virtual reality boxes, refreshments and Internet connection are also available, enabling customers to do more than banking transactions in the branch.

“UnionBank trail-blazed digital banking in the Philippines and we continue with our efforts to use technology and enhancing digital banking capabilities in order to provide the best customer experience for our clients,” Mr. Ortiz said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the bank’s chief user experience officer Ana Maria A. Delgado said the lender is looking at how to roll out the new branch concept across its network.

“They may not all look exactly like this, but they will carry elements of this [branch],” Ms. Delgado said, referring to The ARK

She added that the needs of the community around the branch should also be considered.

“[I]t is important to us to look at each location and determine what are the needs of the community…  We always start with customers’ needs and design around that,” Ms. Delgado noted. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal