ASIA UNITED Bank Corp.’s (AUB) digital services have reached two million users since its launch in late 2019 after the pandemic led to a surge in demand.

AUB launched its HelloMoney prepaid account and e-wallet in the fourth quarter of 2019, just a few months before lockdown restrictions were declared to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“We have almost 2 million users already at this time,” AUB Executive Vice-President and Operations and Information Technology Head Wilfredo E. Rodriguez said at a virtual event on Wednesday. “That’s almost a million a year that we were able to onboard.”

Demand for online transactions have grown due to mobility restrictions during the pandemic. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) aims to bring 70% of Filipinos into the formal banking system and have 50% of transactions done online by 2023.

More of the AUB’s credit card users have also turned to e-commerce during the pandemic. Half of transactions are now done online versus in-store, First Vice-President and Business Group Head for Credit Cards & Acquiring Maria Magdalena V. Surtida said at the same event. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Rodriguez said the bank is still “quite slow” in adopting cryptocurrency.

“You have to understand that banks are heavily regulated by the (BSP) and there has been really no definite guidelines yet on the crypto, but it is somewhere in the grey area,” he said.

“It does not mean that crypto is not legal, except that dabbling in crypto presents a lot of challenges for banks especially with the ‘know your customer’ understanding where the money came from and therefore, we are quite cautious.”

AUB’s net profit increased by 7.72% to P1.2 billion in the second quarter as loan loss provisions dropped.

The bank in June set a P4-billion net profit target for 2021, 30% higher than its actual earnings last year as it expects its lending business to rebound. — J.P. Ibañez