Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) recently rolled out more cash-out options for customers via 11,000 remittance counters across the Philippines, including in rural areas where most of the unbanked and underserved population are located.
This makes UnionBank the first Philippine bank to launch the largest cash-out network in the country – a crucial step seen to significantly improve access to financial services for communities amidst the current pandemic.
Recognizing that sending funds to families and relatives living in provinces has been challenging, especially in far-flung areas where ATMs and bank branches are scarce or unavailable, UnionBank identified that the best course of action to address this concern was to enable customers to send money from home via its app to remittance counters in underserved areas.
The Bank leveraged existing partnerships with top Philippine fintechs such as Dragonpay and Coins.ph, as well as remittance centers Cebuana Lhuillier, LBC, PeraHub and Palawan Express. Integrating the service on UnionBank’s app was made possible in a short amount of time through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) exposed on the Bank’s API Developer Portal/ Marketplace. This also enabled rural banks, who are currently on the UnionBank’s i2i network, to connect to the payout counters, allowing their account holders to send or withdraw funds from these non-traditional outlets.
In just a couple of weeks, UnionBank secured approval from the Central Bank of the Philippines, to perform a live pilot remittance and roll out the feature in the UnionBank Online app.
“With the onset of this pandemic, it has become crucial that our products and services quickly adapt to the challenges presented in this new digital normal,” said Edwin Bautista, UnionBank President and Chief Executive Officer. “This cash-out service is just one way for UnionBank to demonstrate its commitment to financial inclusion as we continue venturing forth in tech-ing up the Philippines.”
Upon the launch of this service, UnionBank noted an immediate high uptake by its customers. At the end of April 2020, with all major remittance centers available through the service, transactions have more than doubled. The Bank also recorded a 20% increase in daily digital account opening as a result of this feature.
“Through collaboration with various UnionBank teams and our FinTech partners, we have demonstrated that the spirit of community is very much alive as we address the needs of our countrymen,” said Arvie de Vera, UnionBank Senior Vice President and FinTech Group Head. “This is a testament that we can use technology and digital services to ensure that no one gets left behind, especially as we weather through this ongoing crisis.”