UnionBank digitizes banking platform to offer customized solutions for corporate clients

To make banking transactions seamless for clients amid the pandemic, the UnionBank of the Philippines (UnionBank) has digitized its onboarding processes through The Portal platform that offers customized solutions for its corporate partners.

“I think everybody from individuals to business folks [is] becoming more and more comfortable in using technology today. We can only just look at how we’re now running our lives, professionally and personally in this new work,” Ramon Duarte, head of UnionBank Transaction Banking c in a virtual media briefing.

Duarte said there is a “massive acceleration” in the adoption of digital payments and banking.

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The Portal is the digital banking platform of UnionBank that is designed to offer a host of solutions that include bills payments, payroll, fund transfers, check writing services, merchant payment gateway systems, and credit facilities. It provides corporations with all their essential banking needs in a single platform.

With The Portal, Duarte said clients can get into the platform in less than a day, usually within a few minutes, with no further training needed.

Onboarding is typically one of the most stressful phases of using a new platform for many corporates since it involves learning a new set of interfaces and processes. This phase can take a few days or weeks or even a few months to finish.

“I think we’re the first bank to allow this for businesses and there’s a huge demand for this especially from those  and that is in the business sector who still mostly transact checks and that’s one of the exciting features when you’re operating on the platform,” said Miguel Dans, lead product manager of UnionBank Business Banking.

All digital accounts will be automatically enrolled on the portal by default, Dans added.

“A big percentage of the bulk of them are open accounts, but they’re not online banking so we’re in the process now of moving everyone online, but definitely the ones that are used to the bank are automatically enrolling them to online banking,” he said.

The Portal’s flexibility and key feature

Duarte said it will provide the utmost flexibility to clients, making it the preferred platform for those who don’t want the “one-size-fits-all” approach of most competitors when it comes to the corporate banking solutions they offer.

In terms of flexibility, the key feature of UnionBank’s all-digital banking platform is the possible configurations for transaction approvals. With this feature, corporates will be able to establish a specific maker-checker process for each transaction made by the team members that will give them free control over who can make which transaction, as well as the maximum amount for each transaction depending on who makes it, among others.

Challenges in corporate banking digitization

In a report, Central Bank reported that digitization of business to business (B2B) payments is “doing pretty well.” Despite this, Duarte said there are still some things that are challenging for the banking industry. Among those are things like the need to have physical paper receipts when doing payments to suppliers.

“You need to be able to claim a receipt so you can apply the proper withholdings and the proper taxes, etc., right? But actually, there are many efforts to move from these physical receipts to digital receipts,” he said.


Citing the exponential rise in hacking attempts, Duarte said the “safety” of its clients is also one of the concerns in corporate banking digitization.

“The way [the] cyber defense is done now, it’s much more about understanding what’s going on in the trends that are out there, not just in the Philippines and wherever. You really need to be plugged into the global network of cybersecurity, because they’re the ones who really know what’s going on because now is the game that has to shift,” he added.

Cloud movement

Duarte said UnionBank has moved the vast majority of its technology infrastructure to the cloud to build capacity for both apps and website functions, citing that a lot of its systems are “run on-premises servers” that requires specific hardware.

“They are not now running on the ground. Now, there are a lot of regulatory requirements for us to do that so certain thing that we still can’t hold on to the cloud, fully, but there’s a lot that we’re already doing and because the cloud delivers many benefits when it comes to dealing with things like downtime, right?” he explained.

He said it would be easy for UnionBank to rapidly scale up capacity through the cloud. “We’re seeing seven times [to] 10 times the adoption of electronic payments. We’re seeing a huge increase in the number of people opening accounts.”