Union Bank unveils free global digital platform for MSMEs
Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines has teamed up with New York-based digital platform provider GlobalLinker to help local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) build online stores for free, deepen their supply chain, tap overseas markets and avail of exclusive offers such as airline and hotel discounts.
Building on the momentum gained by the Ureka Forum – Union Bank’s social responsibility project and now the country’s biggest e-commerce mass conversion program that has so far brought 1,500 MSMEs into the digital space – the new platform seeks to open up opportunities for more entrepreneurs to learn from industry giants, jumpstart their digitization, and convert their “brick-and-mortar” business model into “brick-and-click.”
“It can evolve into an Alibaba with a Linked-in aspect,” Union Bank president Edwin Bautista said in an interview on Tuesday night during the launch of UnionBank Globallinker.
Alibaba is the Chinese multinational e-commerce giant founded by technopreneur Jack Ma while Linked-in is a business- and employment-oriented networking site.
MSMEs do not need to be Union Bank customers to use the Globallinker platform but by building a community of entrepreneurs, these businesses may eventually need banking services – whether payments solutions, deposit-taking, asset management or a loan for a working capital – which the bank can provide. “In this age, hard-sell doesn’t work anymore,” Bautista said.
This is part of the bank’s thrust to encourage “co-creation” or allowing stakeholders, in this case the digital users, to determine the evolution of the digital platform supported by the bank, Bautista said.
The prospective e-commerce transactions that will be coursed through this platform will also give Union Bank an idea on which entrepreneurs have good cash flow and could be good borrowers. “When you provide them working capital, you have a scientific basis to assess risk,” Union Bank chief financial officer, senior executive vice president and treasurer Jose Emmanuel Hilado said in a separate interview.
With UnionBank GlobaLinker’s LINKER.store, entrepreneurs can build an online store that comes with inventory management and data analysis tools, which can help make smarter data-driven decisions.
Globallinker also carries a networking feature which MSME owners can use to link with other business owners who may be their potential supplier, partner or customer.
News, articles, and discussions on industry developments are posted on Biz Forum, allowing users to stay up-to-date and share insights. Discussions under the Biz Forum also provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to promote their own products and services.
“Going online is the first major step for businesses to thrive on digital, but another thing that entrepreneurs should consider is the extent of efficiency that their tools deliver for them. That is why we made UnionBank GlobalLinker that single destination where they can be productive in the way they interact with colleagues and make use of online business solutions,” UnionBank vice president and UnionBank GlobalLinker lead proponent Dino Velasco said.
When companies enroll in the platform, they get a storage service called eBriefcase where they can upload word files, spreadsheets, and slides. These files can be shared between users of the platform. Members can enjoy up to 1GB of free space while companies have an overall cap of 4GB.
UnionBank GlobalLinker also has a built-in calendar that helps users set meetings. The calendar lets users view the availability of their links and set recurring weekly or monthly meetings.
Entrepreneurs on the platform can also avail of special deals and offers, such as discounted airline and hotel rates as Union Bank teams up with merchants to offer freebies to users.
“The shift to digital technology is a challenge for MSMEs but through UnionBank GlobaLinker, we make them our partners in our pursuit of innovation. We look forward to seeing more MSMEs grow on UnionBank GlobalLinker and reach their full potential,” Velasco said.
MSMEs, deemed as the backbone of the Philippine economy, make up 99.57 percent of local establishments.
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