UnionBank once again proved to be the Philippines’ leading digital trailblazer after winning awards for E-Commerce – Financial Technology and AI – Financial Technology categories at the Asian Technology Excellence Awards 2021. The bank was recognised for its responsive efforts to assist e-commerce of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) during the pandemic.
The bank won their E-Commerce – Financial Technology award for the successful launch of the Sentro Online Store Builder, a project aimed to help Philippine MSMEs launch their own online stores in the fastest and easiest way possible. The said project was conceptualized by the Bank’s fintech spinoff UBX, before the pandemic hit in 2019, but became more timely as more businesses moved their transactions online.
“When the pandemic hit, going online was no longer an option but a necessity. We decided to push our launch up as we knew that the Philippines needed us more than ever,” said John Januszczak, UBX President and CEO.
The key features of Sentro Online Store Builder were the integration of payment and logistic services to its banking features. These features enabled its users to have a smoother deal within the platform and have their transactions monitored in just one system.
“We made sure to pre-integrate payments and logistics services into Sentro so MSMEs would not have to think about who and how to integrate these necessary services. Because of our intimate understanding of the pain points of MSMEs, we were able to quickly sign up over 30,000 users,” Januszczak explained.
UBX aims to follow through with the initial success of the project and plans to add more logistics partners. It also aims to launch a Marketplace that comprises all stores built on the Sentro platform.
UBX also recognised that the success of the project for small scale enterprises could be replicated and multiplied on a larger scale. This moved the company into helping the Philippines’ first Wedding Expo Organizer, Themes, and Motifs, take their physical expos online. The positive outcome of the expo then led to the launch of TheBridalMarketplace.com – The First and Only Wedding Marketplace in the Philippines.
“We soon realized that it was not just MSMEs that needed help going online. Larger enterprises, such as mall operators, event organizers, professional associations and many more, needed their businesses to get online… We currently have a long pipeline of businesses looking to launch their own marketplaces and we plan to go live with several more before year-end,” UBX said.
Meanwhile, the second award of UnionBank for the AI – Financial Technology category was earned for their innovative approach in revamping loan processing in the country through the SeekCap Alternative Credit Scoring Model.
SeekCap uses a technologically advanced credit scoring system that integrates the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a risk-based lending approach. For UnionBank, this new system is the future of banking and shall overcome traditional limitations of the past. Through the implementation of this innovative system, UnionBank was able to manage risks better and offer loans in a more efficient manner to a wider range of individuals and small businesses—that profoundly needed lifelines during the uncertain pandemic economy.
“Most of the time, traditional credit and risk assessment methods simply assess loan applicants using hard-coded, preset rules, sometimes unfairly ruling out potential loan prospects. This is why we developed the new AI-powered credit scoring models. These credit scoring models intelligently and autonomously go through the application, alternative, and external data to create a more holistic, comprehensive profile of loan applicants with insights into customer behavior and needs,” said David Hardoon, UnionBank’s Senior Advisor for Data and Artificial Intelligence.
Hardoon explained that SeekCap helped both parties in multiple ways. It not only empowered previously underserved groups to have access to products and services that were not available through older conventional means, but it also increased the rate of efficiency of the banking process.
“Our new model is now giving us a monthly average approval rate of 54% – nearly double the performance of our old process. Overall, our loans services have generated over US$5 million (over P280 million) in new loans with low delinquency rates. In terms of customer experience, the loan approval process can take as short as one day if no issue is found in the application,” Hardoon explained.
UnionBank will receive the awards at the 2021 Technology Excellence Awards, the most prestigious awards programme in the region dedicated to technological projects and innovations. The award-giving body aims to recognise exceptional companies that are riding the digital disruption wave and leading the technological revolution and digital transformation journeys in their respective industries.