Today, Seamless Philippines Virtual 2020 kicked off and I wanted to share quickly a few things that I’ve picked up from the sessions I have attended.

First session I joined was the talk of UnionBank’s Henry Aguda on “Digital payments & the unbanked: Making them accessible“. Henry relayed that “Digital payments aren’t just for convenience anymore,” — digital payments have become critical for (our) economy to survive this pandemic. He further indicated that UnionBank’s online transactions have grown up to 3.4x vs their physical branch transactions since lockdown.

For sure, many other banks have seen this tremendous upswing of online services as more and more people look to transact online given the threat of the virus. And it’s not just in the banking industry that we’ve seen this trend — digital payments (cashless payments) have become the go-to option for online shopping, utilities payments, insurance, etc.

Second session for me was ING’s talk on “Winning at retail banking: An ING success story“. Mohamed Keraine, Head of Retail Development in Asia, talked about “differentiating through customer experience,” citing that, “banking services have become a commodity.”

He said that: “the way to differentiate is via customer experience. And technology has to change, so businesses can deliver on this proposition.”

He made a great point. In this digital era, customers have become very vocal in social media. A dent in customer experience can push people to voice out their frustrations online, which could, of course, influence that person’s peers and change the way they view or feel about the brand, product or service (being mentioned).

Customers are much more demanding nowadays.

Kiko Reyes, Amihan CTO, also mentioned this in his talk “Creating inclusive growth through technology.” Kiko shared that through analytics, businesses can gain a better understanding of their customers’ behaviors and preferences — “Doing so will help businesses differentiate themselves by engaging with their customers in a more personalized manner.”

I wanted to share the video of Kiko’s talk in case you missed it.

Let’s get into what some of the banking and finance leaders have shared in the afternoon sessions of Seamless Philippines Virtual.

I stopped by Janette Abad Santos’ talk on “Electronic KYC” — something which a lot of banks have started to implement. She narrated that, “today, you can open a bank account within ten minutes, even while you are doing your laundry.”

Traditional paper-intensive and time-consuming KYC has been replaced with a more efficient, transparent and secure eKYC — thanks to technologies such as blockchain. Now, banks can onboard more customers in just a matter of minutes.

I also had a chance to listen to PNB’s talk on “Financial Inclusion Stats in the Philippines.” Christian Dobles cited a few interesting data:

  • 71% or 51.2 of 72.1m Filipino adults remain unbanked (2019)
  • Deposit accounts grew 17.2% from 2018 to 2019
  • 47% of Filipinos pay by CASH and 42% via bank transfer in their online transactions (January 2020)
  • Pawnshops and money services businesses have achieved double-digit growth

Finally, I sat in Metrobank’s talk on “Data as a Catalyst for Bank Transformation” where Esel de Sagun-Madrid discussed at length about data and analytics, citing use cases such as fraud and risk analytics, credit scoring, as well as hyper-segmentation for data analytics in the banking sector.

Are you capturing your customers’ data digitally? Is your infrastructure ready? Does your organization have the resources and talent? For banks to leap (into DX), they have to embrace new technologies such as analytics, de Sagun-Madrid explained.

She concluded her talk with a quote saying “Data is just people in disguise“.


That wraps up my summary of Day 1 of Seamless Philippines Virtual.

Macelle Legaspi is a digital strategist & tech marketing professional.