data science and analytics

Understanding What Working with Data Means

Analysis, interpretation, storytelling - these are some of the words that come to mind whenever we talk working with data. Over the last decade, more and more buzz has been created around data.  Several business publications have made the fearless forecast that in the years to come, data might just become more valuable than oil. Truth be told, they’re not wrong. Data allows for better understanding of the business landscapes across varying industries. It also makes it easier to save day-to-day problems while making plausible future outcomes. 

Through different conversations and online events, our Data Science Lead, Rikki Mendiola, breaks down the essential know-hows of dealing with data and everything in between : the good, the bad, and the ugly


The Good 

Measuring the Data You're Working With

Having measurable indicators has always been essential when it comes to business. But because of the pandemic, it has become more important to pay attention to the metrics you have set. With data and data analytics, a complex problem can be made more manageable by breaking it down into more digestible components. Anything can be quantifiable using assumptions and problems can be represented better with the use of models; be it regression, progression trees or clustering. 


Better Decision Making with Data for Organizations

The possibilities brought about by artificial intelligence and data are close to limitless. With analytics as a major part of digitalization, businesses would be able to make more informed and fact-based choices that could serve as catalysts for their growth. 

Sometimes, its not just about applying the best machine learning solution out there. The great thing about data is that as long as you are able to properly identify your problems- the how's and the why's that you need to resolve- it becomes clear that simple, usable data is really the solution. 


The Bad

Working with Data is Not Clean

Data is never clean- not all systems were designed with analytics or artificial intelligence as the main goal. It’s best to keep in mind that when it comes to making the most of data, if it’s too clean - it’s always suspicious. In fact, 80% of the job of data engineers entails cleaning up after the data. 


You Are Only As Good As The Data You Have 

Diving into it even deeper, it’s for your benefit to understand right from the get go that data teams are not magicians. Hence, some problems cannot be solved by simply imagining the data. An empirical approach needs to be used. This is why it is essential to come up with strategies based on exploration and experimentation. 


A Double Edged-Sword 

Ever heard of the saying that numbers don’t lie? When it comes to data, they can, in fact, do. Descriptive statistics can hide underlying phenomena. While it’s good that numbers help you simplify your problems, this may also mean that you miss out on important factors, results or information. Data can tell you what - but it cannot tell you why. As we work on assumptions, context cannot be dismissed. 

As in all promising things, it takes time for results to bear fruit. While it holds true that analytics is all about speeding things up, it is almost just as valuable to take your time when examining data. "Marinating" the data you have can bring in new insights. Collaboration between business units and groups with different priorities also takes time. 


The Ugly 

Not All Systems are Data-driven

Most organizations- and their systems- are not ready for analytics. Sometimes, the bulk of the work requires standardizing pools of data for ready use. 


Artificial Intelligence is Never Agnostic 

How are you using the data that you have? How do you intend to use the data that you have? 

Engineers and scientists create algorithms to help machines understand the world worldviews and biases can be baked right in the creation process. Racial and gender bias exist in these systems. These designs opens up data-driven systems to bias and interpretation. 

These conversations must never be skipped when we are creating systems that claim to help us understand the world. 


It’s Not Just Data For Data’s Sake 

Everything today can be represented with the use of 0s and 1s - including inarguably complex problems and systems. Data and data science provide adept businesses with competitive advantages, so long as they invest the time and resources for it. It is also about speed, scale and convenience, as well as realizing that it’s not just about data collection and ingestion. Starting with big data also entails cleaning and curating data to maximize the value it can bring to your business. 

Working with data not only requires the right mindset or resources- time is also a factor to consider in delivering business value. We work with our clients to deliver results towards insights through Amihan Analyze.

Built with the world’s most successful open source data projects–it combines the massive-scale data processing speed of Apache Spark, Trino’s highly parallel and distributed query engine, and the elasticity and power of Apache Kafka and Apache Nifi. To learn more about our big data analytics platform, download our information sheet.

Maddie Cruz is a content writer and marketing professional.

online banking and ecommerce

Amihan to Present at Seamless Philippines 2021: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in Big Data

Amihan’s Data Science Lead and chief data scientist, Rikki Lee Mendiola, will share insights at Seamless Philippines 2021 that will greatly accelerate the delivery services of banks and businesses.


Amihan Global Strategies (Amihan) - a regional leader in digital transformation, will once again join the Seamless Philippines Virtual Event, a two-day online conference that highlights the latest insights in the banking and e-commerce industries. The event runs from October 12 to 13, 2021. With a focus on elevating the latest technologies in payments, e-commerce, and digital identity, the event seeks to highlight the tremendous growth in the number of online transactions, a sign of greater things in an ever-changing, dynamic global economy.

Amihan Seamless Philippines 2021

Here are Amihan’s highlights for the event:

  • A presentation on Working with Big Data: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Rikki Lee Mendiola, Amihan’s Data Science lead and chief data scientist, will deliver a presentation on the promises, challenges, and current opportunities of working with data, most especially in the banking sector. Rikki will also share her experience working on different analytics projects and the solutions developed for them. 

“Our position in the industry gives us unique insight into how analytics has played a key role in shaping the relationship between banks and their customers. There are multiple data science solutions that can be used to solve different problems. But we have found that many of these technologies do not scale to what a business already has, and have features difficult to implement.” 

“The analytics projects we handle focus on solving specific business problems. We’re excited to share these with the participants of Seamless Philippines,” says Rikki.

Date and Time: October 13, 2021, 1:00 pm

To get your Free Ticket, go to the Seamless Philippines website.


  • A Virtual Exhibition

Amihan’s virtual exhibition will showcase key solutions that enable enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation journeys:

  • Amihan Analyze- Amihan Analyze is an end-to-end big data analytics solution that helps companies eliminate data silos and speed up time-to-insight. It’s built using best-in-class open source data processing technologies, including Apache Spark, Apache Kafka and Apache Nifi. Get an in-depth look at Amihan Analyze by downloading this guide.


  • Amihan Cloud Blocks- Amihan Cloud Blocks is a cloud-native, software-defined infrastructure that allows enterprises to rapidly deploy IT resources and harmonize legacy and next-generation applications in a unified ecosystem. For companies looking for a private or hybrid cloud option, set up a virtual meeting with the Amihan team to learn more about Amihan Cloud Blocks.

  • SafePass- SafePass is an all-digital COVID-19 incident management platform that eliminates the need for businesses to rely on manual contact-tracing methods, such as paper forms and logbooks. Serving thousands of establishments and several local government units, it is designed for easier implementation of health and contact-tracing protocols in physical spaces. SafePass Enterprise, meanwhile, was designed for enterprises and large organizations with more complex operational requirements and multiple locations.


For more information on SafePass:

Amihan’s track record of developing and delivering digital solutions to enterprise customers-from cloud computing, to blockchain and artificial intelligence- is matched by its efforts to develop collaborative relationships with its partners.


“We believe that big data and analytics play a crucial role in modernizing how businesses operate and serve customers. A part of our mission is providing rapid, positive change; by building the next innovations in fintech and big data, we look to create immediate impact and growth for our partners,” said Jerry Rapes, President of Amihan.

Register for Seamless Philippines Virtual for free through their website.


About Amihan

Amihan Global Strategies accelerates the delivery of customer-centric solutions for Asian companies on the path towards digital transformation. We are a Philippine-based company composed of multidisciplinary talents with technology, engineering, and deep domain expertise in banking, insurance, retail, telecoms, and healthcare.

We utilize Cloud, Blockchain, Big Data Analytics, Process Automation, and Artificial Intelligence to fuel our customers’ digital journeys.

Visit for more information.

NAAC-Talino fintech partnership wins FDIC tech sprint

NAAC-Talino Finance Wins Market Readiness Category at the FDIC Tech Sprint




CALIFORNIA (September 15, 2021) - The National Asian American Coalition (NAAC) and Talino Venture Labs, working jointly as NAAC-Talino Finance, won the market readiness category of the tech sprint organized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) entitled Breaking Down Barriers: Reaching the Last Mile of the Unbanked. The tech sprint aimed to explore new technologies and techniques to help banks meet the needs of unbanked consumers.

A solution ready for rollout in the US

FDIC tech demonstration

An evaluation panel reviewed team submissions under the following criteria:

  • Creativity: How new or different was the Team’s approach and to what degree did the approach introduce a potential paradigm shift in how financial institutions serve the unbanked?
  • Effectiveness/Impact: To what degree did the approach have the potential to make a practical and concrete improvement to the number of unbanked or the existing relationship between the unbanked and their financial institution? In addition, how did the approach add value for a variety of stakeholders, such as the unbanked, consumers, and banks?
  • Market Readiness: How long would it take to bring the approach to market and have users adopt the solution?

Available for rollout by the end of 2021, NAAC-Talino Finance’s intuitive and mobile-first digital social borrowing platform gives small businesses access to much-needed credit at more affordable rates while allowing them to build up their credit scores and become more responsible borrowers. This platform is inspired by a tried-and-tested model popularized by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dr. Muhammad Yunus in the 1970s, and now uses technology to introduce financial literacy along with ease of use.

peer-based borrowing circle

Fintech social borrowing

Commenting on the win, Talino Venture Labs CEO Winston Damarillo said, “Social borrowing circles have been tried and tested in emerging markets for half a century now, popularized by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and scaled worldwide. We’ve also proven it to work in the Philippines, where repayment rates average 99%, aided by a strong social network and now accelerated by technology. NAAC-Talino’s win in the market readiness category shows that our work in emerging markets can also address the financial inclusion gap in the US, given that we have 68 million unbanked and underbanked adults closer to home. While we’ve been exporting ideas from Silicon Valley out to the world, there’s also an opportunity for us to bring in ideas from emerging economies to enable economic inclusion and mobility for more Americans.”

App from NAAC and Talino LabsA dynamic partnership serving the underserved

“We are truly honored to be partnered with the National Asian American Coalition (NAAC) under the leadership of Faith Bautista, who have been working tirelessly for decades to give financial access to minority and underserved communities. This win, under no less than the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), affirms NAAC’s mission and validates our concept of using group credit scores to bring more underserved communities closer to credit-worthiness. This is certainly a mission worth innovating for,”  Damarillo added.

NAAC President and CEO Faith Bautista said, “It has been my mission for twenty years to create a solution to help the unbanked and underbanked. We all know that it is expensive to be poor. Bringing this proven concept to life in the form of a digital social borrowing platform for micro-to-small businesses can ultimately address a wide portion of the remaining seven million unbanked households in America.”

The NAAC is a US Dept. of Treasury-Certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and a HUD-Approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit Housing Counseling Agency providing its services to over 18,000 minority families in diverse communities throughout California by preparing clients for mortgages and becoming sustainable homeowners. As an approved SBA Microloan Intermediary Lender and IBank-guaranteed lender, NAAC is a resource by qualified small businesses and non-traditional borrowers for access to capital and other financing options to assist underserved communities.

Meanwhile, Talino Venture Labs is a global venture studio for inclusive fintech that is on a mission to bridge financial inclusion for over 1.7 billion people around the world. It uses the successful venture studio model to build repeatable, scalable, and profitable fintechs that empower underserved, underrepresented groups around the world with financial access and mobility. Its award-winning startups currently serve at least 10 million customers between the United States and Asia, and these have been recognized by global institutions such as UNICEF and the Asian Development Bank.

Thinking out of the box to meeting the needs of the unbanked

FDIC’s tech sprint brought a diverse set of stakeholders (e.g., banks, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, private sector companies, members of the public) together in collaborative settings for a short period of time to intensely focus on challenges of importance to the FDIC. It challenged participants to identify better resources and tools to help banks bring unbanked consumers into the banking system and to sustain those banking relationships over time.

For more information on the FDIC’s tech sprint, visit this press section on their website.

The National Asian American Coalition (NAAC) is a US Dept. of Treasury Certified CDFI and a HUD-Approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit Housing Counseling Agency providing its services to over 10,000 minority families in diverse communities throughout California by preparing clients for mortgages and becoming sustainable homeowners. As an approved SBA Microloan Intermediary Lender and IBank-guaranteed lender, NAAC is a resource by qualified small businesses & non-traditional borrowers for access to capital and other financing options to assist underserved communities.

Talino Venture Labs is a global venture studio for inclusive fintech that is on a mission to bridge financial inclusion for over 1.7 billion people around the world. It uses the successful venture studio model to build repeatable, scalable, and profitable fintechs that empower underserved, underrepresented groups around the world with financial access and mobility. Visit for more information.

This article was originally published in the Blog Section of the Talino Venture Labs website last September 15, 2021.

BayaniPay image

Los Angeles-Based Fintech Innovator Launches Cross-border Financial Services for Millions of Filipino Americans in the United States


LOS ANGELES, California (July 28, 2021) - BayaniPay, a fintech company with the mission of enabling borderless banking, today launched a web app to empower global professionals working abroad to take care of their families and communities back in their home countries.

BayaniPay was designed to meet the specific requirements of Asian American global professionals, who make up over 25% of the foreign-born labor force in the United States. Most of these global professionals currently rely on brick-and-mortar remittance centers to send money to their loved ones. This laborious and time-consuming approach is accompanied by high transaction fees, complicated processes, and limited access to other crucial financial services such as loans, savings, and investments.

BayaniPay takes its name from “bayani,” the Filipino word for “hero”—a term often used to describe global professionals in their home countries. Born out of a partnership between inclusiontech venture studio Talino Venture Labs and leading Asian American multimedia publisher The Asian Journal, BayaniPay received funding from Wavemaker Partners, a cross-border venture capital firm investing in early-stage startups in the United States and Southeast Asia.

“With BayaniPay, we are delivering accessible, affordable, and secure financial services to global professionals, starting with more convenient and fairer-priced remittances. We will initially serve the Filipino-American community in the U.S., and we look forward to extending our borderless banking services to the broader Asian American community,” said Winston Damarillo, CEO of BayaniPay.

BayaniPay’s remittance partner in the Philippines is BDO Unibank, the largest bank in the Philippines. Remittances sent via BayaniPay can be claimed at over 1,400 branches and more than 4,400 ATMs of BDO Unibank nationwide, as well as at 8,000+ BDO Cash Agad outlets, which are mostly located in rural areas. These include sari-sari stores (neighborhood convenience stores), grocery and hardware stores, and gas stations.

BayaniPay is also partnering with Seafood City, the leading Filipino supermarket chain in North America with 32 locations. A cornerstone of Filipino communities, Seafood City serves as an anchor to Filipino businesses and essential services such as immigration offices. Under the partnership, the two companies are conducting joint marketing, in-store promotions and co-branded loyalty programs, which will be fully launched later in the summer.

About BayaniPay  

BayaniPay’s mission is to use technology to break down the borders in banking and level the playing field for all global citizens. Based in Los Angeles, its first mobile service empowers global professionals working abroad to take financial care of their families and communities back in their home countries. BayaniPay Inc. is a partnership among Talino Venture Labs, The Asian Journal, and Wavemaker Partners, and is the authorized agent of BDO Unibank, the Philippines’ largest bank. For more information, visit

BayaniPay was co-developed by Talino Venture Labs , an international venture studio designing award-winning fintech startups, and digital solutions leader Amihan Global Strategies.

This article was originally published in the Press Section of the BayaniPay website last July 28, 2021.

Digital Transformation Focus on Customers

3 Reasons Why Digital Transformation Initiatives Fail

More and more Filipinos are becoming digitally connected.

I recently helped out with a deck that talked about Accelerating Digital Transformation. One of the slides had a list of figures and statistical data about digital transformation (DX). It's shown below.


Digital Transformation facts, figures and statistics

From left to right:

  • 97% mobile internet users as a percentage of total internet users
  • 45% of Internet users in the Philippines aged 16 to 64 transfer money to friends or family on their phone every month
  • 76% of Internet users in the Philippines aged 16 to 64 purchased a product online in the past month
  • 37% of Internet users in the Philippines aged 16 to 64 who report using a banking app each month
  • 28% of Internet users in the Philippines aged 16 to 64 made an online purchase via laptop or desktop in the past month
  • 66% of Internet users in the Philippines aged 16 to 64 made an online purchase via mobile device in the past month

Data on the gray footer:

  • 108.8 million Filipinos
  • 73% of Filipinos are online; 9 hours and 45 minutes is the average daily time spent of Filipinos online
  • There are 73% million total active social media users, 98% are mobile (accessing social media platforms on their mobile)
  • Facebook, Youtube, Facebook Messenger are the top three most used social media platforms in the Philippines

Above data are as of January 2020. Sourced here.

This increasingly changing customer dynamics together with business continuity pressures amidst the pandemic are driving companies to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives. 

If your business isn't re-inventing the way you do business, you will become disrupted.

Our clients and prospects are exploiting opportunities. "We can't just do nothing," one of them said. "But we have to be pragmatic and that means understanding that DX requires an iterative, agile execution. It's okay to start small to effect the right shift in culture alongside the implementation of digital technologies."

We get it. Becoming digital is not easy. A recent survey points out that only 18% of companies rate their use of digital technology as “very effective”. (Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey) In addition, eighty-seven percent of senior business leaders say digitalization is a company priority, yet only 40% of organizations have brought digital initiatives to scale. (Gartner)

We spoke to our customers, prospects, and partners and there are a few common answers to why their DX efforts are failing, enumerated below:

            1. Weak strategy and vision. There may be a strategy, however the strategy may be incomplete and unclear, which makes it weak. Some have plans on where to go but have not outlined how they plan to get there. Some have goals that are too ambitious. This can lead to disengagement between you and your employees and /or you and your customers. Now there are some steps to building a winning DX strategy. First critical steps typically include getting leaders involved and defining a vision and desired outcomes. Then there's typically an assessment of the current situation and planning your DX journey. "Many organizations fail short because they tend to work only on short-term wins, and fail to plan for long-term goals. We can't blame them because businesses need immediate answers for urgent demands."
            2. Lack of alignment. Digital transformation, which often causes a shift in processes and structure, requires all functions of the company to be aligned and involved. Without a real partnership amongst leaders, DX will fail.
            3. Lack of expertise. Many have shared about this and as a result, they've become stuck in a state of digital suspension. But companies can't simply (always) hire to build the expertise because it's just not practical. Hiring is not always the answer. A good solution is finding the right partner that can contribute to your DX goals.


Why are your DX efforts failing?

Macelle Legaspi is a digital strategist & tech marketing professional.


Screenshot of Amihan Christmas Party conducted on Zoom, with a professional host

An Awesome Virtual Christmas Party

Virtual Christmas parties are in full swing this year, and the Amihan team has just organized an amazing and unforgettable party. 

Everyone had so much fun -- I feel nobody had expected it to be THAT FUN, but we had people laughing so hard they literally cried out tears. That’s something rare in these trying times.

Amihan's virtual Christmas Party hosted through Zoom
Several Amihan team members posed for a virtual 'group photo' with the host, Wizzo. The party's proceedings were all conducted via Zoom, the virtual conferencing solution.

But you know--organizing a virtual Christmas party is no easy task. How can you make sure to have a fun and engaging virtual Christmas party? Also, Christmas parties are celebrated with food too! How can you not host a Christmas party without food, right?

Let me tell you how we celebrated ours.

  • We hired a professional party host. They are there for a reason! I think it’s alright to say that in general, everyone enjoyed Wizzo the Magician. Wizzo is an engaging host and we enjoyed watching his magic tricks. He had captured everyone’s attention--there was crazy online banter and laughter over Zoom chat all throughout the program.   
  • We had hot and fresh food delivered to 140 team members in Manila and Cebu via Jollibee food delivery! Except for the organizers, I’m sure everyone was surprised (in a good way) with the load of goodies that arrived. #ThankyouJollibee

  • We organized interactive digital games. Amihan team members are not newbies to virtual games, as we have been organizing virtual parties since the lockdown began in March. But because a lot of us had our videos on this time around, it elevated the fun and discussion online! I applaud Wizzo’s creative use of the Zoom functions--it leveled things up and brought us all together. 
Virtual party games
Some Amihan team members competed in a virtual party game, complete with snowmen serving as the contestant's avatars.
  • We had a WFH vlog contest. In addition to the yearly tradition of the new employees’ showcase, the organizers asked Amihan team members to put up a vlog that illustrated their WFH scenarios. The videos were the real kicker- they really brought out what the segment is all about, which is learning more about our teammates’ personalities and talents. Salute to the Tiktok moves, video-editing skills, and creativity of everybody who contributed! 
A Zoom screen showing the winners of the Amihan Work from Home Video contest, during the Virtual Christmas Party
We presented the contestants' group videos for our Work From Home (WFH) Vlogging Contest. The Zoom screen here shows here the winners.
  • We held an online raffle. Christmas parties are not the same without a raffle, right? Good thing there are digital raffle wheels nowadays. Congratulations to our winners!
Raffle spin wheel on TV with an Amihan team member posing
Team members anticipated on who can win next in our virtual raffle draw!

Most of us have been working from home all by ourselves since March. Our transition to work (fully) remotely went through some rough patches, even for a digital transformation company like us. We weren’t immune to problems. 

This virtual Christmas party truly brought us all together. Despite the challenges we’ve had all throughout the year, our team has shown its strength. I’m really proud of the Amihan team and commend everyone for pushing themselves to do the best they can.

Amihan CEO Jerry Rapes
Amihan CEO Jerry Rapes gave his Gratitude Message for all team members.

It is true what Jerry, our CEO, had said. Trust is what will keep us together. If we cannot trust each other, then we will not succeed together, as our partners and customers will not also trust the work that we do for them. 

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas!

Macelle Legaspi is a digital strategist & tech marketing professional.


Digital Onboarding in Philippine Financial Services

The experience of spending hours in long lines to open a new account or to transact business is a common Filipino banking experience. But the current pandemic has already led to sweeping changes. Today, enterprises in the Philippine finance industry like banks are using digital onboarding to accelerate the development of connections with their customers.

What is Digital Onboarding?

Digital Onboarding as Used in Banking

Digital onboarding is referred to someone opening a new account with a business or service. This term has its roots in the banking industry when digital onboarding means a customer wants to open a new bank account online. But before doing this, they would need to verify their identities first with the bank.

Before the dawn of digital onboarding in financial services, banks had to confirm their client’s identities through officially endorsed documents that were either mailed in or dropped off. A face-to-face interview was also part of this onboarding process. This led to long wait times.

It was in 2016 when the Swiss financial regulatory authority FINMA allowed banks to go through with digital onboarding for many financial services, starting with the use of videos for identity authentication. This formed the basis of what we know of digital onboarding today.

The First Touchpoint

What makes digital onboarding an essential part of transforming the finance industry for the digital age? While all industries can benefit from adopting digital onboarding, it has become an increasingly crucial part of how we interact with banks and other financial service providers. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have lead to certain consequences:

  1. In a recent survey, 41% of respondents were unable to physically access financial services due to the pandemic, while 63% have completely abandoned the notion of onboarding or signing up for a service.
  2. In the same survey results, 10% of respondents mentioned that they stopped going through an onboarding process because of the “confusing” language used in forms. Meanwhile, 15-20% gave up on signing up because it took so much of their time.

Banks cannot be bogged down by both operational and regulatory processes. While these are important for the bank’s survival and for compliance with regulatory standards, the expectation of quick and reliable access to these services should be a top priority. Aside from complying with regulations, guaranteed security and privacy of information must be addressed. The proper handling of customers’ use and access to data not only saves time for customers, but it will help in gaining their trust and confidence.

Having digital onboarding as the first touchpoint allows companies to initiate building brand equity with new customers and help retain old ones. In a study that highlights the accelerated shift to digital conversations due to the pandemic, 86% of respondents show a preference for digital interactions to other forms of communication. This is also born not from choice but also by necessity, as 40% of consumers have changed their preference from direct mail to digital means. Digital onboarding will not only accelerate service delivery and enhance security, but it will ensure that an enterprise’s services are readily accessible to the most loyal section of the customer base.

Digital Onboarding in Philippine Financial Services

In Digital Banks

There are several local banks or subsidiaries of international banks that have adopted a form of digital onboarding. Of note are UnionBank and CIMB Philippines.


To address the needs of their clients and to open its doors more to new customers, UnionBank launched its digital banking platform, The Portal. Customers can access services such as withdrawals and deposits, bills payments, or loan applications, while enterprise clients can initiate payroll, fund transfers, check writing, access credit facilities, and more. It is the first digital broad-spectrum service for businesses, a huge demand given the need for businesses to operate and transact at near-instant speeds. According to Ramon Duarte, head of UnionBank Transaction Banking, the release of the Portal coincides with and answers the increasing usage of digital and mobile solutions among their customers, with “everybody from individuals to business folks becoming more comfortable” in using technology.

By using The Portal, clients can use the platform and onboard themselves in minutes instead of hours, all without the assistance of bank staff or additional training. Existing clients that are using the bank’s digital banking services are instantly migrated to the new platform. The bank is also in the process of migrating all accounts to the Portal. In addition, the new onboarding platform takes advantage of cloud-based infrastructure, adding increased capacity and flexibility for app and web functions.

CIMB and Jumio

CIMB Philippines, one of the few all-digital banks in the country, recently picked Jumio as its end-to-end identity verification provider. With its AI-driven identity verification technology, it provides a “safe, secure, and fast digital onboarding experience, reducing the requirements for KYC onboarding from 15 minutes and video verification to less than 5 minutes. The solution includes the use of machine learning technologies, as well as certified liveliness detection and face-based biometrics for proper identity verification. Instead of using video, Jimio’s program asks for a user’s live selfie-and matches this with a government-issued ID’s photo.

According to Robert Prigge, CEO of Jumio, it’s becoming increasingly important for the banks in the Philippines and the APAC region “to offer a streamlined digital onboarding process.” With the increasing number of cybersecurity cases in the country, it has become crucial to deliver a “safe and secure banking experience”- as CIMB Bank PH CEO’s Vijay Manoharan added. In the bank’s first full year of operations, all in the pandemic, nearly 2 million Filipinos have signed up for a digital account, 30% of whom were first-time bank customers.

CIMB's rapid increase in new users due to better digital onboarding show proof of the growing demand Filipinos have for digital financial services. With a final target of 3.5 million signups by the end of 2020, the bank aims to solidify its position as a major player in the country while continuing to offer an ideal customer experience for all customers.

Looking Beyond: The benefits of digital onboarding also apply to other industries beyond digital banking:

  • Reliable and convenient access to products and services
  • Fast and secure identity verification 
  • Reduces wait times and service delays
  • Eliminates the need for customer onboarding training
  • Answers the demands of today's digital native customers

Bankers Association of the Philippines

The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) is the lead institution that organizes the universal and commercial banks in the country. They are also the leading body that develops and promotes policies and technologies for financial inclusion and innovation.

Blockchain-based Digital ID System

The BAP and Amihan worked together to create a digital national banking ID registry built on Blockchain. Using distributed ledger technology to secure user and transaction data, the national registry uses an Electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC) process that will guide new customers to creating new bank accounts and access services. The information is then stored and secured on the blockchain to be shared with all member banks of the BAP. When customers want to go to a different bank, they no longer need to go through the onboarding process again as their data can be accessed and used upon their permission.

In the traditional onboarding process, banks ask customers to submit identification and fiscal documents to serve as proof of their identity. This is not only slow and time-consuming but it is also a risk to data privacy- many of these documents come in paper form and can get lost or be modified. Through the new national digital ID, customers have more choices where to take their business and have more control over their information. Banks meanwhile can divert their resources to become more agile and competitive.

Regardless of bank or branch, and as long as it is within the BAP’s network of member banks, customers can open accounts, apply for loans, and invest in and buy insurance.

As a key takeaway: The financial services in the Philippines, through its use of new digital onboarding methods, are paving the way to enhancing how customers can access much-needed banking and insurance needs. While the pandemic has certainly hastened the timelines for adopting these solutions, it has also shown that the market is already primed to accept the use of such technologies if it can offer positive and tangible results.

Amihan’s SimpleOnboard is a digital and omnichannel onboarding solution created to simplify customer journeys. Available as a SaaS, it transforms your business’s traditional channels and use of costly paper application forms to a system that allows you to sign up your customers seamlessly on the web, through chatbot, or on their mobile devices.

Schedule a demo to learn how SimpleOnboard can help ease your customer onboarding experience.

Amihan President and CEO Jerry Rapes receives two awards from his alma mater UP.

Amihan CEO Jerry Rapes Recognized as 2020 UP Outstanding Alumnus

Amihan CEO Jerry Rapes has been honored as a UP Outstanding Alumnus with two awards for 2020.

Manila Philippines, December 2, 2020 - Amihan Global Strategies (Amihan), a leader in digital transformation, technology, and engineering services, announced that its President and Chief Executive Officer Jerry Rapes has been named one of four Outstanding Alumni Awardees by the University of the Philippines Industrial Engineering Alumni Association (UPIEAA).

Each year, the Outstanding Alumni Award is presented to selected alumni for their significant achievements in their respective professional fields. Jerry is honored for his achievements in Entrepreneurship in the field of Industrial Engineering.

Jerry received the award as part of the virtual year-end celebrations during the 2020 UPIEAA General Assembly last Saturday, November 28.

Being recognized as a UP outstanding alumnus by the Association confirms Jerry’s outstanding leadership and exemplary contributions at Amihan, a trusted digital transformation partner to established enterprises and high-growth companies in Asia.

Jerry has been with Amihan since it started in 2014. Under Jerry’s leadership, Amihan has expanded into new markets and continues to pave the digital transformation journey for its distinguished roster of clients in multiple industries such as Banking and Finance, Insurance, Healthcare, Retail, and Information Technology. 

Jerry shared that: “The Industrial Engineering Program in UP honed me in three strategic pillars which are true to this day: people are our biggest asset, the process dictates efficiency, and last but not the least, the right technology is empowering.” 

"The award inspires us at Amihan to forge on with our role in enabling transformation for our clients," shared Jerry. 

Amihan is on a mission to help enterprises transform rapidly. From established companies to high-growth innovative enterprises, it has been helping businesses utilize technology and build capabilities to transform the way they work and serve their customers.

Amihan CEO Jerry Rapes
Jerry received the 2020 National Achievement Award in Information Technology during the UPAE Virtual Alumni Homecoming last December 5 (Image captured during the event).

Jerry will also receive the 2020 UP Alumni Engineers (UPAE) National Achievement Award for Information Technology during its virtual homecoming this December 5.

“In a year full of challenges, I’m deeply honored to receive these awards,” Jerry said. "This recognition brings back memories of UP which I'm sure will inspire me to find new ways to use technology to empower the Filipinos in this new digital economy.”  

Windmills along the beaches of Ilocos Norte

Ilocos Norte to use ‘SafePass’ app for COVID-19 contact tracing

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, Philippines (Manila Bulletin, November 9) — The provincial government of Ilocos Norte will be using the “SafePass” application for the health information management system on contact tracing amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc issued Executive Order (EO) 99-20, adopting the use of SafePass Apps in the province.

The EO recognized the vital role of information and communications technology in contact tracing for COVID-19. It underscored the application’s importance now that the province has opened its doors to Luzon tourists.

SafePass Apps, which is one of the digital contact tracing applications approved by the National IATF, is a digital COVID-19 incident mitigation and management solution developed by Talino Venture Labs to make safety protocols more convenient.

SafePass has two versions: the SafePass Base, which is free for all types of organizations for basic contact-tracing and digital health questionnaires, and the SafePass Express, which comes with employee management features, and is free for government agencies and establishments accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT).

SafePass Base helps business to reopen safely in the new normal. It is now available for FREE, enabling establishments to scan employees and visitors coming in and out for more accurate contact-tracing and incident response. It will also give them access to the digital health questionnaire and contactless scanners for better implementation of safety regulations.

Designed for bigger businesses, SafePass Enterprise offers powerful features and various options for customization. Learn more about SafePass Enterprise.

All Ilocos Norte provincial government employees, especially those at the Capitol Building, are required to register and obtain a QR code for use in the SafePass App.

According to Ilocos Norte provincial government’s Information Technology Office (ITO) chief, Wilfredo Lorenzo, Safepass automates the space capacity planning of an office, its reservation, and registration, protocol enforcement, incident management, and contact tracing.

Soon, the provincial government of Ilocos Norte will also require visitors to register to SafePass; replacing pen and logbooks, which may be a way of COVID-19 transmission, according to some medical experts.

Registration options include accessing the SafePass online registration URL using a web browser, Facebook Messenger even on free mode, and SMS. Moreover, Mr. Lorenzo stressed on the importance of using an active phone number while registering.

Meanwhile, those who do not have a smartphone or Internet connection may seek the assistance of their respective barangay for them to generate a printable QR code which may be used as a digital ID.

Lorenzo said the ITO has set up SafePass gatekeeper devices and some monitoring equipment at the capitol building’s convergent points to accurately monitor movements.

SafePass was co-developed by Talino Venture Labs and digital transformation leader Amihan Global Strategies. There’s an enterprise-level version called SafePass Enterprise which delivers the right balance of flexibility and ease of implementation for bigger businesses. Learn more about SafePass Enterprise.

This article was originally published in the Provincial News Section of the Manila Bulletin online ( last November 9, 2020.

Creating Inclusive Growth through Technology talk by Francisco Reyes, Amihan CTO

Seamless Philippines Virtual Day 1 Recap

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.