Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) was recently named SME Bank of the Year Philippines 2021 at the Asian Banking & Finance (ABF)’s Retail Banking Awards 2021. This distinction further validates UnionBank as the country’s foremost Bank for SMEs.
“Financial institutions that didn’t back down from the challenge and have adapted amidst the crisis have proved to be on the top of the industry. Asian Banking & Finance awards aim to recognise these exceptional firms and challenge them to provide top-tier products and services to their clients as we continue to move forward into the new normal, ” said Tim Charlton, publisher of Asian Banking & Finance magazine.
This is the second time around that Asian Banking & Finance has recognized the Bank with this much-coveted award, the first time being in 2019 when it was honored for successfully enhancing SMEs’ competitiveness in the domestic and global markets by co-creating with them – building an SME package or a suite of banking products essential to operate their business.
SMEs have always been faced with the host of growth challenges including managing and enabling financial transactions, access to credit, and expanding their reach. These challenges have been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic which brought about substantial impact on SME clients since the lockdown in March 2020.
Prior to COVID, UnionBank has already laid the ground work to address these challenges by introducing an MSME Banking Hub.
The first-to-market UnionBank SME Business Banking app came at the perfect time in 2020 to cater to the shifting needs of SMEs by offering the widest range of digital options and functionalities in managing their financial transactions such as: first bank to introduce mobile check deposits which was most used feature during the lockdown due to the protocols set by the government; and first bank in the country to introduce Digital Account Opening for SMEs. In addition to this, there was a significant increase of banking customers coming from the platform, with a total of 71% new SME Business and Personal accounts from 2020 up to June 2021, contributing a total additional growth of 50% in deposit balances and another 50% additional growth in loans.
The app also has the most extensive list of government and utility billers for bills payment, local and international batch bank transfers, setup of customized and complex approval flows, batch account opening and management of payroll accounts, and a single log-in for all enrolled companies and subsidiaries.
It includes a payment gateway feature beneficial for SME owners to create a unified payment solution for easy collection. With a simple link, customers may pay through channels such as Visa and Mastercard. Other payment options to be included are Instapay, over the counter, digital wallets, UnionBank online, among many.
To address the needs for more access to credit, UnionBank Business Loan via the SeekCap platform offers a convenient and straight through digital application process, allowing SMEs to get a credit decision within 5 minutes/less. This is possible with the aid of APIs which pull data in real-time and feed into our credit scoring algorithm which is continuously enhanced through machine learning.
Lastly, UnionBank GlobalLinker, an AI powered digital platform entirely dedicated to SMEs who can use the platform free of cost, transforms the way the Bank serves and supports SMEs.
It allows SMEs to expand networking reach, increase learning capabilities, and improve their digital presence by creating fully digital stores. UnionBank has conducted over various webinars to utilize the platform and expand SME’s learning opportunities. It has reached a total of 60,000 SMEs on the platform, enabling affinity partners where communities of SMEs are onboarded to the platform with help and promotions of key organizations such as Department of Trade.
The Bank has also digitized the supply chain through its Financial Supply Chain platform, the first blockchain-enabled financial supply chain in the country. The platform provides financing products to supply chain ecosystems at scale through risk mitigation, security and automation.
UnionBank’s continuing efforts in helping MSMEs have not gone unnoticed as it garnered these awards from Asian Banking & Finance as well as from Asiamoney with the Best Bank for SMEs award citing that by helping bring these companies into the financial system, the Bank is making an admirable contribution not just to its own bottom-line but to the future of its country.
“This pandemic emphasizes that all of us must have a higher purpose than just ‘profit’. For us at UnionBank, this greater-purpose is to extend banking and financial services to the mass market and the unbanked, via best-in-class digital and physical channels, so that they can be ‘digitally transformed’ and future-ready. We will continue to support MSMEs so they can be globally competitive in this new digital age as we continue our efforts to ‘Tech Up Pilipinas’ while pioneering innovations for a better world,” said UnionBank President and CEO Edwin R. Bautista.