Counting on several major digital transformation strategies, it hopes to reach out to millions of unbanked and under-financed people in SEA.

The economies of South-east Asia are backed by strong macro factors, including 460m digital consumers and high internet penetration. Yet, half the population remains unbanked — with no access to financial products, and an estimated 18% are underbanked, lacking access to anything other than a bank account.

This presents opportunities for the financial services industry to provide millions of Filipinos with access to digital financial services, including bank transfers and money withdrawals (even in very remote areas), with financial services, using digital technology and data.

UnionBank, which operates in one of the world’s most complex yet fastest growing regions for financial services, is pushing digital banking efforts forward to boost inclusion and innovation.

According to the bank’s Chief Technology and Operations Officer, Dennis D. Omila: “Growth of the Philippines economy is projected to bounce back by year-end to 5.3%, and to 6% in 2024. With this encouraging news comes a compelling challenge to all Philippine banks to continue building agile and tailored products catering to evolving customers.” Omila expects to strengthen the bank’s infrastructure to “allow our teams greater autonomy and flexibility to deliver latest features and updates to meet market needs” and “better focus on delivering products that match our goal to Tech Up Pilipinas: enabling customers to live their best lives through the latest financial innovations.”

The plan involves a continued drive for digital transformation with cloud computing, such as:

    • building a consistent and unified experience across its public and private cloud environments, and seamlessly shifting workloads to the cloud as business needs evolve
    • simplifying operations so that teams can act faster as well as develop apps with more agility and accuracy, reducing the average application deployment time by up to 95%
    • freeing up the IT teams’ bandwidth away from managing day-to-day infrastructure and giving them greater flexibility to focus on long term innovation, including developing micro-finance and micro-savings applications, which provide small-scale financial services to individuals that may not have access to traditional banking services
    • building new mobile banking products with micro-services 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
    • building cloud-native applications on a Kubernetes framework so that its teams can use the wide range of AWS compute, database, analytics, machine learning (ML), networking, mobile, and other services to build security-focused and scalable applications with better efficiencies.
    • using the agility of cloud computing to scale its workloads on demand, to launch innovative financial services, like digital wallets, AI-powered financial assistants, and mobile payment apps faster compared to using on-premises environments
    • streamlining internal processes, saving development time, and promoting stronger DevOps practices such as open ways of working and agile workflow, so that teams can efficiently and collectively deliver more personalized products meeting customer needs for financial management, including payments, lending, investing, and insurance

Said Jerry Bongco, Country Manager (Philippines), Amazon Web Services, the bank’s public cloud provider: “Financial institutions across Southeast Asia are using the transformative power of cloud technology to rapidly deliver innovative new services that empower more people and drive prosperity. AWS works with Red Hat to help organizations like UnionBank increase operational efficiency, refocus on innovation, and quickly build, deploy, and scale applications. This initiative clearly demonstrates how cloud technology is a catalyst for innovation and resilience in a complex and growing region.”

Red Hat’s Prem Pavan, Vice President and General Manager (South-east Asia and Korea), noted that 60m people here became online consumers for the first time during the 2020 pandemic. He said, “UnionBank, a digital-forward bank that is rapidly scaling and innovating its products to meet the needs of digital-native customers and emerging business cases,” citing how such organizations can drive speed-to-market, economies of scale, and greater flexibility to focus on digital transformation.