It hopes to achieve this next year, by accelerating digital transformation and advance efforts to develop inclusive digital banking technologies now.

Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) has announced that it will migrate its IT infrastructure from on-premises to the a fully-cloud based platform by 2022.

This plan is intended to accelerate the bank’s digital transformation, improve customers’ digital banking experiences, and strengthen financial inclusion in the Philippines by bringing financial services to remote parts of the country, where 70% of the Philippines’ 110 million citizens live without access to financial services, according to the Milkin Institute.

The bank will also realize a cloud-only IT transformation strategy, becoming the first major bank in the Philippines to be fully hosted in the cloud.

Banking on the Cloud

The bank expects to leverage on its new architecture to create new digital banking experiences that are accessible from mobile phones. This platform can be scaled to provide millions of Filipinos with access to financial services, including bank transfers and money withdrawals, even in very remote areas.

Choosing Amazon Web Services (AWS) for its transformation, UnionBank will build new mobile banking products with microservices that support any application architecture, regardless of scale, load, or complexity. For example, the bank integrated electronic ‘Know Your Customer’ capabilities into its mobile app, allowing customers to submit documents digitally to open a bank account instead of via post or by visiting a physical branch. Customers can also use the app to transfer money to other banks and deposit checks simply by taking a photo of the check.

When the migration is complete, UnionBank will run almost 400 mission-critical applications in the cloud to modernize its IT infrastructure, drive operational efficiencies, and innovate new services. By scaling its SAP workloads on demand using AWS, UnionBank expects to reduce infrastructure maintenance and operation costs by US$1m over the next five years.

The bank is also migrating over 900 virtual machines to VMware Cloud on AWS to generate savings of over 30% over five years and create a return on investment in less than 18 months. In addition, the bank expects to benefit from increased staff productivity, reduced unplanned downtime, and increased business agility through faster deployment of new, externally-facing applications.

DX user training also matters

To building cloud fluency across the organization, UnionBank is investing in a cloud training program for staff. The bank is providing training courses to more than 500 employees, including both in-depth technical training for information technology staff and cloud fundamentals training for business stakeholders.

The program is also designed to foster a culture of learning to spur progress of its cloud-only IT strategy faster guided by robust IT risk management, data protection, data governance, and cybersecurity frameworks.

Said the bank’s Executive Vice President and Chief Information and Operations Officer, Dennis Omila: “Now, more consumers, farmers, fishers, and local businesses will have access to the tools to help better manage cash flow, making it easier to send and receive payments.”

AWS’ ASEAN Managing Director Conor McNamara noted: “Banks across Southeast Asia are adopting the Cloud to exceed customer expectations, pursue new opportunities opened by evolving regulations, and address challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic. These firms ultimately recognize the Cloud as a business and technology enabler.”