BDO taps homegrown app to make long lines less painful

Art Fuentes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 15 2018 06:33 AM | Updated as of Dec 18 2018 02:58 PM

The QMobile app lets you get a queue ticket and then alerts you when your number is about to be called. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Hours in line can now be spent lounging in a coffee shop after BDO, the country's largest bank, tapped a mobile app to manage its queues.

The locally-developed QMobile app alerts users when their turn is near. This is especially helpful during the Christmas rush, said Elena Guevarra, BDO branch head at SM City North EDSA Annex, which handles as many as 800 transactions daily.

"Especially after a holiday na long ang transactions, long ang queue, may instances na they will have to stay in the line for over an hour or over 2 hours. Sayang yung oras di ba?" Guevarra told ABS-CBN News.

(Especially after a holiday when the queues are long, there are instances wherein you have to stay in line for over an hour or over 2 hours. That's a waste of time.)

Some app users even hear mass to wait out the queues, she said.

The QMobile platform is currently deployed in 145 BDO branches, 3 Smart payment centers and even 2 branches of the Makati Health Department. It is also being used by the Ateneo De Zamboanga University, Adamson University and De La Salle College of St. Benilde. 

Many BDO clients still prefer visiting bank branches even if they have the option to transact on their devices, said Honey Reyes, BDO AVP for Corporate Communications.

"Local banking clients generally feel more confident about their chosen bank when speaking to someone in person," Reyes said. 

Clients line up at tellers at a BDO branch in Quezon City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

QMobile is available on both iOS and Android devices. Users download and activate the app on their smartphone, choose the bank branch they need to go to, select their transaction, and then get a queue ticket number. 

The app tells users how many people are in the queue and notifies them via text message when their turn is near and if it’s time to go back. 

If there is a long queue in these branches, users can even reserve a queue number before they go to the branch, one of the developers of the app said. ​

SCHOOL PROJECT

QMobile is the brainchild of a TimeFree, a startup tech firm formed by a group of graduates from the Ateneo de Zamboanga University. 

"We experienced waiting in line in different establishments and government offices, sometimes even for hours," said TimeFree co-founder and CEO Chito Atilano. 

He said the company started as a school project when he and his business partners were still in college. 

"We thought there must be a lot of other people who were facing the same problem so we came up with the idea for a virtual queuing software that would send a text notification when your turn is near," Atilano said. 

He added that consumers usually have two concerns when it comes to waiting in line: How long is the queue? And when is my turn? 

TimeFree officially incorporated in April 2013 after Atilano and his partners received funding from IdeaSpace Philippines.

While QMobile is focused on deploying the platform to larger enterprises, it also started testing smaller businesses, including The Lavendry Lounge a laundromat and cafe, Atilano said.