UnionBank to give up Citi brand in early 2024
MANILA -Union Bank of the Philippines aims to drop the Citi brand for all credit cards in early 2024, marking a new era for the Aboitiz-led lender more than a year since it completed the P72-billion takeover of Citi’s consumer business in the Philippines.
The acquisition primes UnionBank for faster growth in the coming years, especially as the domestic banking giant moves to conclude its integration with Citi this 2023, UnionBank CEO Edwin Bautista said.
He shared that their credit card growth rates over the past six months had hit a record high “even for Citi in the last 10 years”. UnionBank now has about 1.5 million active credit cards in force, he said.
UnionBank—which last week launched a new line of credit cards targeting a wide range of clients—said new Citi card issuances were already being made with the UnionBank branding.
“It’s going to be a gradual process but I think the absolute drop date [for the Citi brand] would probably be end of first quarter next year,” Bautista told reporters in a recent interview.
He said they were currently focused on completing their integration with Citi while doubling down on marketing activities to ensure that customers stay with UnionBank.
“We want to make sure the customers are happy when they cross over and their card changes from Citi to UnionBank,” he said.
This also entailed heavy spending on building a brand-new system to replicate all the features that Citi offered to keep customers.
“What Citi built in the last 10 years, we built in the last 12 months,” Bautista said.
“We said, let’s not even pick and choose anymore. Everything that Citi has, the minimum should be there. What we have in our cards should be there as well,” he explained.
UnionBank’s operational cost during the first half of 2023 nearly doubled to P22 billion mainly due to “one-time” integration costs related to the Citi acquisition. Net income increased by 6 percent to P6.4 billion, while revenues surged by 60 percent to P34.4 billion.
Bautista said they were expecting better earnings prospects in 2024 with higher revenue base and one-time integration spending out of the way. INQ