CitySavings on Digitization Trends in Banking and Financial Inclusion

UNLOCKING CEBU: UnionBank Senior Executive Vice President and CitySavings Chairman of the Board Eugene Acevedo (4th from left) received his plaque and token of appreciation from the officers of the University of the Philippines - Junior Finance Association (UP - JFA) as speaker during the Philippine Financial Summit (PFS) – Cebu Chapter last March 3 at the Sky Hall, SM Seaside City Cebu.

City Savings Bank (CitySavings) co-presented the recently concluded Philippine Financial Summit (PFS) – Cebu Chapter organized by the University of the Philippines - Junior Finance Association (UP - JFA) held last March 3 at the Sky Hall, SM Seaside City Cebu.

PFS Cebu Chapter is part of a bigger campaign and is the flagship event that UP - JFA spearheads annually dubbed as the “Investment Month”. This year, the student organization focused on gathering and training students and young professionals from different organizations in the pursuit of nation-building through financial literacy and awareness among Filipino youth with topics ranging from financial mastery to the economic potential of the Visayas region.

“Investment in people give the best returns”, said UP Diliman student and Investment Month Chairperson Ian De Luna during his opening remarks as he welcomed over 500 participants from the Visayas region.

Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) Senior Executive Vice President and CitySavings Chairman of the Board Eugene Acevedo was one of the summit speakers. Focusing on Digitization Trends in Banking, Acevedo started his talk by asking students how often they would go to a bank since, in one survey, people rated going to the bank just slightly higher than going to the dentist. “When people go to a bank to ask for a loan, for instance, they often feel embarrassed because the bank asks for many things. Customers want to be treated in a special way. So we asked ourselves why banks can’t change the way they treat customers.” he shared.

“We’re starting to make banking more interesting. In UnionBank for example we came out with The Ark – it’s a branch that has no tellers. A customer can go to the Ark and do their own banking via a tablet while sitting on a nice chair having coffee. It’s a self-service banking facility that is completely paperless. Banks now need to focus on user experience.” he further expounded.

Acevedo also talked about bitcoin and the block chain technology behind it. Bitcoin, the decentralized ledger network, allows users to transact directly, peer to peer, without a middle man acting as central authority.

“In bitcoin every single node has a copy of the same ledger. If there are a thousand participants, a hacker will consume a significant and uneconomical amount of energy to change all the ledgers. Every 10 minutes or so there is a block of deals recorded, and the blocks are chronologically connected and referenced. That’s why it’s called a blockchain.” Acevedo explained.

Bitcoin’s digital backbone created by the blockchain is what makes it a distinct and important technology feature. It represents an innovation in information registration and distribution that eliminates the need for a trusted party to facilitate digital relationships. Bitcoin increases system efficiency and enables the provision of financial services at a drastically lower cost, giving users more power and freedom.

Acevedo shared that “The blockchain technology is now being used to create a payment gateway to make it easier for rural banks to transfer money to each other.”

Over 50 years ago the ATM was considered a digital innovation but as the population kept growing and access to smart phones got easier, banks now have to keep up with the latest trends such as mobile apps, selfie banking or facial recognition to authenticate a person’s identity and analyzing credit scoring through big data.

In closing Acevedo said that “Banks need to do a better job in serving the lower 95% of the country’s population. 99% of the country’s businesses are SMEs, many of which are currently borrowing from loan sharks. About 69% of Filipinos do not have bank accounts and approximately 3% of the country has credit cards. Microfinance will strive to serve the people who have been left behind.”

With a simple vision to “help people of moderate means” back in 1965, CitySavings founders Don Ramon Aboitiz and Teotimo Abellana wanted to provide financial assistance to those who contributed to their communities but had no access to banks and banking services. Now under the helm of UnionBank, CitySavings is poised to be the leading mass market bank in the Philippines and promote financial inclusion to advance business and communities.