18 months and counting since face-to-face interactions have last been allowed in the country. Changes across all industries are unprecedented and living in the online space has become the new reality.
Banking remains one of society's essentials as individuals and businesses need to manage and have access to their finances no matter what the situation. With strict community protocols in place, banks have been forced to accelerate their digital transformations to continue serving customers.
For a country with 71% of the total adult population remaining unbanked, according to a survey done by the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas in 2019, the shift to a new digital platform did not come easy, but banks and financial institutions are coming up with their own ways.
To know more about what's in store for the future of banking for one of the trusted commercial banks in the Philippines, ANC's Salve Duplito sat down with Richard Lim, Group Head and EVP of RCBC Retail Banking Group, and Randy Uson, Segment Head and SVP of RCBC Branch Services Support Segment.
Digital Transformations in Banking
Richard Lim shares that they have noticed a 70 percent drop in people visiting their bank branches. Nowadays, everybody is looking for ways to do their financial transactions without the need to leave their homes.
This has challenged RCBC to up its online offerings and push its digital capabilities so they can stay relevant to customers. Digital channels have become the main mode of transactions instead of its previous support role to physical banks.
''Now, you will see our service managers engaging our clients through video conferencing, they are performing transactions by way of e-signatures, and our branches receive applications, whether these are loan applications or Deposit Account applications, through our online forms. So what this also means is that our customers are now doing lesser trips to the bank, which is actually good for both our customers and RCBC because it creates more efficiency, which is always good for business,'' said Lim.
The first thing the bank did is to look at its current digital channels to make sure it is simple and intuitive to use. Because products and services on offer were built around the traditional branch model, they had to make it compatible online. They even have to invest in things like AI and data analytics to better understand and serve their customers.
With all these innovations come new risks, that is why the bank is also upping its cybersecurity.
''First is, we have enhanced the functionalities of our online banking platform to add more transactions, which traditionally could only have been done through the branch. So when you are transacting through our online banking facility that is a secure means to transact,'' said Randy Uson. ''The second is that we have invested in what we call a secure document exchange. This allows our clients to send us documents directly into our network, rather than passing or sending documents through the email, which, as we all know, isn't exactly the safest thing to do.''
The Branch of Today
Despite all these digital transformations, RCBC has not forgotten its physical branches. Knowing its integral function even with the online migration, the bank has designed its branches around the new customer experience, piloting the Branch of Today – an easy, simple, fast, safe and secure way to bank in a branch.
Convenience remains an important factor, they want customers to experience simple and fast transactions when they do choose to visit.
It is also a largely paperless environment, with its processes either automated or digitized, allowing them to reduce the time it takes to open an account.
''Our clients appreciate the fact that when you come to RCBC and you open an account, we can do so within 20 minutes from your completing the filling up of a form. Even your subsequent transactions, you can actually initiate from the convenience of your home or your own device with a few taps and clicks and when you come to the branch your transaction is ready,'' shared Uson.
When you walk into the bank's converted branches, you will see self-service kiosks and service managers ready to help. Here, customers are also taught the different services they can utilize online.
''The branch of today is like our middle ground between the physical branches and the online banking,'' said Lim.
''So what we want to happen is that when our customers make a choice, whether they want to use our physical channels with the branches, or they want to use our digital channels, they make that choice, not because of the capability of the channels, but they make that choice because of its convenience, at the point when and where they are needed,'' he added.
The Branch of Today aims to reflect the simplicity, intuitiveness, and speed that you get when transacting online, offering customers the best of both worlds. It provides customers the same value of trust and partnership, and a fast, safe, and efficient way of banking, no matter how or where they choose to transact.
To know more about RCBC's Branch of Today, visit its website or its official Facebook page.
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