UnionBank ready for the ‘new normal’
Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) started embracing the future of banking four years ago in 2016, when it embarked on its digital transformation. Fast forward to today, the bank is reaping major benefits from its significant and prescient investments in digital transformation.
While most organizations may have been caught off guard by the sudden shift to online activities due to the coronavirus diseases 2019 (COVID-19), in the case of UnionBank, it was a swift and near-seamless adjustment.
“The minute the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) was announced, it was a very smooth transition for us to move into a work-from-home (WFH) scenario. From the very start aside from our branch personnel, 90 percent of UnionBankers are working from home and this covers our operations team, marketing team, and customer service team,” UnionBank chief customer experience officer Ana Delgado said in a recent interview with ANC.
One hundred percent of UnionBank’s branches were open for two weeks since the start of the ECQ. After branch transactions were closely monitored and observed to be going down in some branches as customers began shifting to digital channels, the bank refocused its resources and continues to keep 70% of all its branches open.
The bank is seeing a dramatic rise in digital banking transactions. In March, its PESONet transactions surged 82% year-on-year, while InstaPay transactions in April alone, equaled its total number of transactions since its inception.
Even the bank’s digital account openings have registered a huge spike.
“In March we saw 10 times the number of accounts opened versus previous year, and since the start of the ECQ, we have seen a 400-percent increase in monthly number of accounts opened, not just through our app because we also open accounts digitally through our relationship managers,” Delgado said, referring to the bank’s personnel nationwide who help their clients to open a fully functional savings account via videocon or a digital portal.
To ensure availability of the bank’s digital channels in this challenging time, UnionBank has implemented measures to avoid transaction overload as well as cyber fraud.
“As we know now that there is a surge in transactions, we have to make sure that we could increase our capacity without having any downtime so we prepared for this by implementing what we call horizontal scaling and that allows us to add server capacity without having to have any migration or any downtime at all. Also, we needed to make sure that our architecture is resilient, so to keep all of our systems running 24/7, we had to put up different data centers away from the main office,” Delgado added. “Lastly, we have invested heavily in security, particularly in detection, protection, and prevention. We have digital infrastructures that allow us to monitor 24/7 from our offices, plus we also have partners that allow monitoring 24/7 into other continents.”
The coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly sparked unprecedented global disruption, but UnionBank’s prudent use of technology is driving the bank to cope with the new normal.
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