Here comes high-tech banking with human touch
Whether you have P50 or P500,000 in your bank account, GoTyme guarantees that you will be treated as a “preferred client” and get the same attention and care as every other customer.
And your money, no matter how modest your saving is, will earn the same annual interest rate as that of other bank depositors’. GoTyme offers a 5-percent interest rate for all savings accounts. There are also no limiting conditions for enjoying the high-interest rate, like cutoff dates or regular deposits of specific amounts, as required by other financial companies.
GoTyme, a joint venture of the Gokongwei group of companies and Tyme Bank, a multicountry digital banking group, is out to give prospective clients the novel experience of “phygital” banking, bringing together the best practices in the state-of-the-art digital banking and the reassuring and comforting human touch that traditional financial establishments offer.
According to GoTyme executives, while total digital banking is fast and convenient, clients often feel like they are just numbers to the company and hardly interact with any real person.
On the other hand, the fancy offices and smartly dressed personnel of traditional banks are intimidating. Depositors with only modest amounts in their accounts do not get the “preferred” treatment accorded wealthy clients.
Phygital banking, according to Nate Clarke, GoTyme Bank CEO, would give clients the human experience many still prefer while enjoying the convenience of state-of-the-art financial technology for hassle-free transactions. He says GoTyme is the only bank using this hybrid model in the Philippines.
Albert Tinio, GoTyme Bank co-CEO, describes phygital banking as the “marriage of the digital and physical,” presumably a harmonious and happy one that should encourage potential customers.
Both bank executives explain that, despite Filipinos’ active engagement in social media, they still very much prefer to deal with a real person, including in their banking needs.
“With the social culture in the Philippines, Filipinos still want to interact with humans,” Clarke says. Tinio adds that while Filipinos are technology-savvy, they are also very sociable.
Clarke says GoTyme is targeting Filipinos underserved and unserved by traditional banks, a goal aligned with the campaign of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for financial inclusion.
“We want to unlock the financial potential of Filipinos,” he says.
GoTyme was launched in October 2022 and, according to Clarke, its market penetration is just “getting better and better.”
GoTyme was started in South Africa where many people, just like in the Philippines, did not feel comfortable dealing with traditional banks.
Instead of fancy offices here, GoTyme has kiosks in Gokongwei malls, where people can open accounts using just one accepted identification card. Bank “advocates” are on hand simply to assist but the process is designed to be so easy and simple that the client can do it himself/herself without much trouble.
Tinio stresses that the advocates work only in areas where there are GoTyme kiosks. They will not solicit business through phone calls or by going house to house.
The phygital bank allows clients to open an account without any initial deposit. There is no maintaining balance and no maximum limit on how much a client can put in his/her account. But it should be mentioned that the Philippine Deposit and Insurance Corp. provides deposit insurance coverage only up to P500,000 per depositor per bank.
Deposits and withdrawals can be made through cashiers in Gokongwei retail establishments that are open seven days a week. Use of GoTyme cards also earns reward points that may be used in Gokongwei establishments.
Clarke says, unlike other banks, GoTyme offers low transaction fees and high-interest rates. By not putting up brick-and-mortar offices, GoTyme is able to keep costs low. The money saved is used instead to pay the better-than-usual deposit interest rate.
GoTyme opted for phygital banking as it realized that despite advances in technology, including the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI), Filipinos still look for and prefer to talk to humans about the status of their accounts or how to resolve their problems, for instance.
“People don’t like talking to ‘bots’ (basically computer programs designed to respond to predetermined questions),” Tinio says. Clarke adds that AI is used merely to supplement the work done by the advocates.
GoTyme now has 330 kiosks all over the country located in Gokongwei malls and retail establishments. The phygital bank is on track to hit 1 million accounts this month.
As the client base grows, Clarke says they will roll out more products like bills payment, loans and investments.
Both Clarke and Tinio give the assurance that no matter how big GoTyme gets, it will continue to provide clients a better banking experience. Clarke said the phygital bank would offer fast, convenient and secure transactions, as well as higher value products at better prices.