ASIA United Bank (AUB), among the country’s fastest-growing publicly listed banks, is determined to grow in the digital space and build collaboration with various financial-technology (fintech) providers for the influx of 1.5 million tourists expected in the country this year from China, as projected by the Department of Tourism.
This is to further leverage on its enhanced IT platform to improve the banking experience for its customers, according to AUB President Manuel A. Gomez. He said the 20-year-old bank has been making use of technology since it opened at the height of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 to differentiate its services and operations in the highly competitive market.
“We’re a young organization but we’re at the forefront of innovation—powered by a tech-savvy senior management and an entrepreneurial mind-set, and not bogged down by legacy systems,” Gomez said during the press briefing immediately after the company’s AUB Annual Stockholders’ Meeting held on June 22 in Pasig City.
Gomez added that with the management’s focus on people development and holistic change, the bank is able to scale up and sustain its robust financial performance.
The bank said it will continue to embark on automation to improve its product offerings and bank services. It has already started to integrate the National Retail Payment System into AUB’s online platform, and is now looking to create the bank’s own e-wallet that can be accessed by the whole AUB ecosystem.
“We have so far incorporated InstaPay in both our mobile app and Internet banking to allow our customers to do real-time fund transfer to other banks on a 24/7 basis. We also just launched our Credit Card Mobile App to allow cardholders to access their credit card accounts anytime, anywhere,” said Wilfredo Rodriguez Jr., AUB head of Operations and Information Technology.
AUB is also partnering with fintech providers on credit evaluation to improve its loan approval process. “Fintechs cater to specific products and services that traditional banks failed to serve. By harnessing this synergy with fintechs, we expect to develop bank products and services that are more responsive to the growing demands of today’s customers, including the millennials, and embrace the unbanked sectors of the country,” Rodriguez stressed.
AUB recently partnered with Tencent, developer of mobile payments giant WeChat Pay. AUB developed the mobile app AUB PayMate to allow local merchants to accept WeChat Pay transactions for shopping, dining, hotel, as well as other tourism-related payment activities.
“Since we launched WeChat Pay in the country in November 2017, AUB has so far accredited 2,000 merchants,” said Mags Surtida, head of AUB Credit Cards Business.
She revealed that WeChat Pay is in preparation of the influx of the Chinese tourists expected to arrive in the last two quarters of the year. “We are in the planting season right now. We are building relationships but we recognize it to be a very big business in the future,” Surtida added.
AUB also plans to open 15 new branches to bring its network size to 264 by the end of the year, including the branches of its subsidiaries, Cavite United Rural Bank and the Rural Bank of Angeles in Pampanga.
“We want most of them outside of Metro Manila, as we are looking to expand our reach nationwide. Subsequently, we are looking at opening 10 to 12 branches per year, as well as ensuring the profitability of all our branches,” said Jacob Ng, AUB chief transformation officer and branch banking head.
AUB said it projects a net income of P3.2 billion by the end of the year. Robust growth in loans and deposits nudged up the net income of AUB and its subsidiaries to P2.8 billion in end-2017, 23 percent higher than a year ago.
The Rebisco-owned universal bank ranked No. 1 in deposits and loans, with year-on-year increases of 22.40 percent and 31.87 percent, respectively, in 2017, based on the published statements of conditions of 10 publicly listed universal banks. Its deposit level stood at P158 billion in 2017, from P129 billion in 2016, while total loans amounted to P130 billion in 2017 and P99 billion, previously.
To further improve the banking experience for its customers, AUB is simplifying its branch processes so depositors can just fill out electronic forms and take a selfie on an iPad to open new accounts, among others.