UnionBank bets big on virtual reality, iPads as it levels up digital banking

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 13 2018 10:19 PM | Updated as of Sep 14 2018 09:26 PM

UnionBank's president and CEO Edwin Bautista talks to ANC's Cathy Yang about the bank's radical digital pivot.

MANILA - Virtual reality is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when people visit a bank branch, but for UnionBank, VR is a tool that can change not just how people view banks but the banking experience itself. 

"Instead of banking being a chore, we want it to be a positive experience. How to do that? that's the marketing challenge," said Edwin Bautista, UnionBank's newly-appointed president and CEO. 

At The Ark, UnionBank's pilot digital bank in Makati, there are padded, bright-colored benches, free flowing coffee and even VR goggles where customers who want a car or housing loan can preview their dream vehicle or home. 

Bautista, in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss, said the rationale here is that most people don’t go into a bank to inquire about a loan. Instead, they want to figure out how to achieve their life goals. 

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Inside the country’s first fully digital bank branch, there are also no queues, no slips of papers with numbers on them, and most important of all, no bank tellers. 

"Someone will approach you with an iPad and take your order. In the meantime you can have coffee," Bautista said. 

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Instead of bank tellers, The Ark has "bank ambassadors" who lend customers an iPad as they enter. 

All bank transactions – from transferring funds to applying for a loan – are accomplished through standalone

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UnionBank is set to open 10 other branches similar to The Ark across Philippines this year as it cements its claim to being the country's first fully digital bank.

Watch full episodes of The Boss on ANC and iWantTV