UnionBank sees strong growth with new innovation campus

Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines said on Wednesday it sees “stronger” growth this year after the inauguration of its first-in-industry innovation campus in San Pedro, Laguna.

UnionBank senior executive vice president Henry Aguda said this at the event, which also coincided with the launch of a three-day “innovation festival” in the one-hectare property south of the Manila capital.

“If you’re asking if it’s going to be better than the years before, it is very, very good with our CitySavings bank subsidiary. Our loan portfolio is growing faster than last year. Our motorcycle business is actually doing much, much better now,” Aguda said when asked about how the facility can help grow their business.

Aguda, who is also the bank’s chief technology and operations officer and chief transformation officer, said the innovation campus is seen as more than just a training facility for its employees, but also a critical hub for blockchain, artificial intelligence and other new technologies where ideas can be discussed.

Metaverse and banking

Chief human resources officer Michelle Rubio, who spoke about how the metaverse can affect the banking industry, said blockchain technology is one of the areas of interest they wish to develop.

“We have a physical world, and we have a digital world. So how might we do banking and payments in the virtual world? There are many use cases for these,” she said.

Rubio added that they will hold an NFT (nonfungible token) auction of “digital artifacts” related to the company’s forty years in the banking industry.

“These are interesting applications for NFTs. And we want to be a center of excellence when it comes to the metaverse,” she said further.

EV industry innovation

During the event Aguda told the Inquirer that they are looking to offer banking loans for electric vehicles (EV), adding that they will soon start a pilot program to gauge its sustainability.

“It will be on a pilot stage, and we will sign the LOIs (letter of intent) tomorrow. Depending on the results, it can last maybe as long as six months or so,” Aguda said, citing that they want to see how it performs in the Philippine market.

“If the credit risk and repayments are okay, then we will go through with it in full blast,” he said further.

The UnionBank executive said the market potential is “big,” estimating is that demand for financing will at least be in the hundred of millions of pesos in the first three years. INQ