UBX leads open finance revolution with BSP

Manila, Philippines – UBX, the fintech venture studio and fund spun out of UnionBank of the Philippines, responds to the BSP’s drive for financial inclusion, promoting the adoption of innovative services through its first-in-industry platforms in eCommerce, lending, payments and now, in open finance.

Financial inclusion has become a policy objective of the government to further economic growth and reduce poverty especially for the most vulnerable sections in the country. However, gaps in creating a wholly inclusive ecosystem that connects all Filipinos to formal financial institutions still remain a challenge. 

During the 2021 European-Philippine Business Summit, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno shared the importance of open finance as a tool in closing the gap. The BSP-approved open finance framework allows “consent-driven data portability, interoperability, and collaborative partnerships among financial institutions and third-party providers (TPPs)” to enable industry players to provide customer-centric products and better access to key financial services such as lending and insurance. 

UBX has been complimenting the open finance framework ever since its incorporation in 2018: “UBX allows smaller players to leapfrog across the scaling-gap to get them to a technology level that can place them, in some aspects, at par with the bigger players. UBX connects hundreds of smaller financial institutions to NRPS through our banking-as-a-service venture i2i and we can leverage this established reach to include the long tail of the financial services ecosystem in open finance. We include everyone: smaller FIs, non-banks, other service providers and their customers in the innovation promised by open finance.” shared John Januszczak, President and CEO of UBX. 

UBX heads new committee on open finance and financial inclusion

The Special Committee on Open Finance and Financial Inclusion (SCOFFI), formed by the ECCP with UBX, will bring together policymakers and industry players to help advance BSP’s agenda. This will serve as the space for stakeholders to discuss relevant issues and spearhead actionable solutions that will shape the country’s policy environment and improve financial inclusion through technology. UBX, recognized by the Global Banking and Finance Review as the Fastest Growing Fintech Company in Southeast Asia for 2020 and 2021, is leading the new committee. 

“In establishing the open finance ecosystem, a single body to oversee the efforts is necessary. As such, the open finance oversight committee is being constituted to perform this function. The committee shall formulate open finance standards and procedures.” BSP Governor Diokno announced.

UBX launches open finance platform, Xpanse

To further drive the momentum, UBX launches Xpanse, the newest addition to the fintech arm’s portfolio of first-in-industry ventures. Xpanse enables banks, fintechs and startups to build new financial solutions through APIs and customer controlled data sharing across hundreds of member institutions in the Philippines.

“UBX’s open finance infrastructure opens UBX’s aggregation of financial solutions and service providers to developers. Xpanse will not just connect developers to programmable services across hundreds of financial institutions in the Philippines, it will also connect customers and traditional financial markets to the world’s most innovative financial operating system and the future of banking.” shared John Januszczak, President and CEO of UBX

About UBX – UBX is the financial technology venture studio and fund of UnionBank of the Philippines. UBX is predicated on a future where financial services are invisible: seamlessly embedded into the experiences and activities that truly matter to businesses and people. For partnerships, email us at partnerships@xpanse.fi

For more information about the company and this article, please visit www.ubx.ph 

Contact:

Agnes D. Casal

Public Relations and Events 

UBX Philippines Corporationagnescasal@ubx.ph.

UnionBank’s UBX opens Singapore HQ

UBX, UnionBank of the Philippines’ fintech venture studio and fund, expands its operations in Singapore to further its vision of invisible banking in Asia. Since its launch in 2018, UBX has pioneered financial services solutions integrated into everyday activities of people and businesses. The new Singapore headquarters is the bridge for startups who would like to enter the Philippine market by partnering with UBX’s award-winning ventures.

“Expanding reach within Asia continues to be an important focus for UBX,” Cyrus Cruz, who joined UBX Singapore as Country Head, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to further extend our presence in the region, starting with Singapore – known as the main regional fintech hub of upcoming start-ups and great talents in Asia. UBX has strategically set up an office here to contribute to, and benefit from the established ecosystem. This will not only expand our network, it’ll also help us learn from different companies in the country. ” he added.

UBX is fast-tracking its expansion because of the rapid growth of fintech with 2 out of 3 financial transactions being made online today. In 2020, $1.6 billion was invested in fintech startups in Southeast Asia according to a study by Dealrooom. UBX ventures are experiencing significant growth fueled by the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, SeekCap – UBX’s digital lending platform in the Philippines – processed over USD 60 million  worth of business loans for MSMEs just one year after its launch. While i2i, UBX’s banking-as-a-service platform, had a 3000% monthly volume increase for its portable Mobile ATM services in 2020. 

For its impact on fintech and financial inclusion, UBX was recognized as the Fastest Growing Fintech Company in South East Asia 2021 by the Global Banking and Finance Review. As a leading venture studio in the region, it was only natural to open its 2nd headquarters in Singapore where the growth trajectory of the fintech industry has been steady and impressive. ​​John Januszczak, the Chief Executive Officer of UBX reiterates “We aim to support companies who would like to enter the Philippine market through strategic partnerships leveraging both UBX’s technological expertise and open finance footprint in the Philippines.”

UBX is the gateway to fintech in the Philippines

UBX invests in early-stage startups that add strategic value to the UBX and UnionBank network. UBX’s portfolio focuses on various in-demand solutions ranging from banking and payments to lending and eCommerce categories created for individuals and businesses. 

UBX’s i2i is the Philippines’ fastest-growing Open Finance and banking-as-a-service solution, bringing  financial services to underserved communities through its network of financial services providers. To date, i2i connects hundreds of financial institutions and financial service providers, in addition to over 1,800 banking agents on the platform.

SeekCap is the Philippines’ first same-day approval, digital lending marketplace made especially for micro, small, medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) who need access to credit to run and scale their businesses. SeekCap has registered over 48,000 MSMEs and has processed over USD 60 million worth of business loans. SeekCap has partnered with digital communities such as Lazada and Foodpanda to further expand its MSME reach.

Bux is an end-to-end payment gateway for businesses of all sizes. MSMEs can accept payment methods from over 50,000 over-the-counter locations including 7-Eleven and LBC, debit and credit card payments as well as wallet payments via GrabPay and GCash. With over 100,000 sign ups since its launch in 2019, Bux continues to make payments simple and easy with features like payment links, Universal QR code and Buy Now Pay Later. 

Sentro, a free eCommerce shop builder with pre-integrated payment gateway and delivery services, powers over 30,000 registered local merchants since its launch in 2019. UBX recently launched Sentro Build – the first multi-merchant marketplace builder in the Philippines bringing buyers and sellers together in one reliable site.

QLABS is UBX’s technology solutions venture that brings a business’ digital initiatives to scale with its team of experts and industry leaders. QLABs developed PHX, the Philippines’ 1st Central Bank approved Stable Coin that currently powers the i2i network. QLABS has helped “tech up” multiple businesses, such as developing PERA HUB’s mobile application with features that allow customers to connect with, and pay, thousands of merchants. 

Assured, the Philippines’ first and revolutionary embeddable insurance platform, is the latest venture of UBX. Assured recently partnered with insurtech Coherent and insurance giant Chubb to increase insurance penetration rate through embedded insurance, a protection cover presented as a value-added feature in everyday experiences like paying a bill or shopping online. Assured is led out of the Singapore office, paving the way for regional expansion.

About UBX – UBX is the financial technology venture studio and fund of UnionBank of the Philippines. UBX is predicated on a future where financial services are invisible: seamlessly embedded into the experiences and activities that truly matter to businesses and people.

For more information about the company and this article, please visit UBX or contact agnescasal@ubx.ph.

UBX leads in Crypto: Becomes first regulated institution to run a public stake pool

UBX Staking Pool

Manila, Philippines – UBX, the fintech venture studio and fund spun out of UnionBank of the Philippines, is opening its own public stake pool featuring Cardano. UBX becomes first in the world to run a public stake pool as a regulated institution. UBX Staking provides Filipinos a reputable and trustworthy source to earn rewards on their ada for helping to secure and operate the Cardano blockchain. 

John Januszczak, President and CEO of UBX said, “The Philippines’ adoption of cryptocurrency is opening opportunities for financial institutions to create reliable platforms that will guide and support Filipinos with their finances. UBX is fully committed to maximizing blockchain technology such as that of Bitcoin, Ethereum and Hyperledger. To further excel and maximize the potential of blockchain, we’re looking at emerging protocols like Cardano to connect traditional financial markets to the world’s most innovative Financial Operating System.”

Launched in 2015, Cardano has emerged to be one of the leading  blockchain protocols in the world today with ada as its native digital cryptocurrency. Cardano is built on the industry leading Ouroboros proof-of-stake (PoS) protocol and developed using Haskell code, a highly secure, enterprise grade programming language. Cardano has been developed from rigorous peer-reviewed academic whitepapers, ensuring resilience, security and scalability. The Ouroborus consensus mechanism is mathematically verified to be provably secure and sustainable; benefiting as one of the most energy efficient, cost efficient, and decentralized blockchain protocols in the industry of public blockchain protocols.

Frederik Gregaard, CEO of Cardano Foundation said, “UBX is spearheading adoption efforts through operating decentralized blockchain technology as part of their mission critical infrastructure. UBX is setting standards for regulated financial institutions as they are one of the first regulated institutions to operate a public stake pool, not only in the Philippines but also the whole world. Cardano Foundation is proud to support UBX by guiding their management team on Cardano best practices and applications. The acceptance of Cardano as a Financial Operating System continues to derisk adoption efforts for other Financial Institutions, Enterprises, and individuals in the region.”

Staking is a way to earn rewards by allowing a number of users to delegate crypto in a shared pool without the hassle of maintaining separate nodes. This increases the probability of earning more rewards hence earning more profit. Whenever a new block is built, a blockchain network grows. Users are then rewarded for helping sustain the network. 

Users can delegate by buying ada coins and transferring it into a wallet that supports staking such as Daedalus and Yoroi. Through the delegation process on Cardano, the ada never leaves the users wallets in order to promote a more secure and instant capability to participate with stake pools. Through UBX Staking, not only can users easily find a regulated source in the local fintech space, users can also access soon-to-be-released comprehensive guides on blockchain and Cardano, bridging the knowledge gap in staking cryptocurrencies.

Launching a stake pool is just the beginning for UBX. Participating in the Cardano infrastructure and offering participants a platform where they can earn off of their holdings is the first step towards more cryptocurrency innovations for Filipinos in the future.

ENDS

About UBX 

UBX is the financial technology venture studio and fund of Union Bank of the Philippines. UBX is predicated on a future where financial services are invisible: seamlessly embedded into the experiences and activities that truly matter to businesses and people. For more information about the company and this article, please visit www.ubx.ph or contact agnescasal@ubx.ph.

About The Cardano Foundation 

The Cardano Foundation is an independent Swiss not-for-profit organization that oversees and supervises the advancement of Cardano and its ecosystem. The Foundation’s core focus is in developing a Cardano adoption strategy through to integration and execution, to enable fast-track value creation for inclusive and equitable growth. As the custodian of the protocol and the owner of the Cardano brand, the Foundation works to drive adoption and partnerships, grow the wider blockchain community, shape legislation, and commercial standards, and ensure stakeholder accountability. Find out more: www.CardanoFoundation.org

UBX chief to utilize expertise in building-up start-ups as The Final Pitch Season 6 investor judge

UBX President and CEO John Januszczak has recently joined the latest season of long-running, entrepreneurial-themed reality show The Final Pitch as an investor judge.  This marks the very first that a fintech company joins the show and reflects UBX’s continuous efforts in accelerating MSME success by incubating start-up businesses in the Philippines.

As an investor judge, Januszczak brings to the judging table an expansive wealth of knowledge and expertise in building start-ups from the ground up, which comes from his experience in leading UBX in its mission to support the country’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and help them thrive in the digital economy.

As the fintech spinoff and corporate venture arm of Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank), UBX has been at the forefront of incubating start-ups and business ideas in the country by utilizing innovation and co-creation to deliver pioneering solutions that enable growth and expansion, empowering entrepreneurs and enabling their businesses to achieve their full potential.

Among these solutions is SeekCap, UBX’s online lending platform and the first online lending marketplace in the Philippines. Since its launch, SeekCap has processed over P1.5B worth of business loans and has helped more than 38,000 businesses, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when many of them needed financial support just to stay afloat.

There is also Sentro, the country’s first end-to-end e-commerce builder, which allows entrepreneurs to create their very own fully featured online store even with little to zero tech know-how. More than 29,000 businesses in the country have successfully digitized their businesses thanks to Sentro, allowing them to thrive amid the recent growth of the e-commerce sector as a result of the pandemic.

Another industry-pioneering solution that is aligned with UBX’s efforts in incubating the next big Filipino entrepreneur is Bux, an end-to-end platform provides business owners with a wide selection of payment methods and channels depending on their needs or preference. To date, Bux has helped more than 100,000 businesses streamline their e-commerce payment process.

Through these solutions, UBX has become the biggest incubator of start-ups in the Philippines, giving burgeoning entrepreneurs secure footing in an era where being digital has become a must, made even more challenging by an unprecedented global health crisis. But these solutions aren’t the only capabilities of UBX when it comes to supporting start-ups.

“We’re very interested in investing in ideas, in founders, and talented entrepreneurs. We can invest in external or stand-alone ventures through our venture fund.  We also have our venture studio which could make sense for someone who has a smaller team but needs the resources of an incubator/accelerator to bring their startup to market. UBX will provide individuals who have a great idea with a framework and assistance that will validate it and give capital and resources to bring it to scale,” Januszczak said.

For more information, visit www.ubx.ph.

To read the original article by Megabites, click this link.

Final Pitch Season 6 scouts for ‘new normal’ heroes

The country’s only business reality TV show, The Final Pitch, may have been dealing with entrepreneurs who are in essence heroes in their respective expertise. But this latest season to air on CNN Philippines is on the lookout for ones with “great business ideas to solve pandemic problems.”

In some way, the show launched last Feb. 16 via a Zoom presser, is still all-business, but with more heart and compassion as we all move forward to a safer, better world.

Host and creator John Aguilar, expressed, “This season is a chance to prove that despite our current challenges, we can work strategically given our limited resources to move the country forward, provide solutions and opportunities and discover new startups and talented individuals to help rebuild the nation.”

This sixth season, appropriately themed the Heroes Edition, will feature four successful individuals to serve as judges-investors to pitchers. The line-up includes 917Ventures’ Vince Yamat, FWD Insurance’s Li Hao Zhuang, UBX’s John Januszczak and Thames International Business School’s Joel Santos. Their main goal is “to look for the next great business idea that will impact society positively.”

The past five seasons solidified the show’s reputation as contributor to the growth of the business community while publicly exposing the brilliant minds and inspirational stories behind some of the most innovative and triumphant entrepreneurs in the land.

Santos, who in previous seasons served as purely a mentor, now comes in as an investor who will lend his strategic insights owing to his extensive network. He noted, “We are ready to offer our programs in Thames, plus personal mentoring depending on the gap they need to fill to be able to scale up their enterprise. This includes possible strategic partnerships across the region that we hope to help facilitate.”

Katrina Chan, executive director of QBO Innovation Hub, practically occupies Santos’ former role as she joins the show as a mentor alongside QBO’s roster of startup ecosystem supporters and stakeholders.

The Final Pitch Season 6 specifically invites startups, non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs and individuals armed with new solutions to address the economic and social impact of COVID-19.

Yamat, the managing director of 917Ventures, shared, “We are looking for what we call a venture builder, someone with grit and the right attitude who is passionate about solving a problem. We just need the right idea and the right attitude and we will provide the ecosystem of marketing, logistics and product development. We will work with you as we solve a big problem and improve the lives of the Filipino people together.”

For his side of doing things, the CEO of a rapidly rising insurance company Li Hao Zuang aims to support those with a social mission, saying, “We are looking for entrepreneurs with a bayanihan spirit who want to change the world, who have a distinct offering and concept and a commercially viable plan.”

In addition, UBX’s Januszczak mentioned about his company’s venture studio “which could make sense for someone who has a smaller team but needs the resources of an incubator/accelerator to bring their startup to market.”

Online entries and one-minute pitch videos can now be submitted via TheFinalPitch.ph/application. Interested investors and corporate partners intending to work with the show “behind the scenes” may also reach the show through submit@TheFinalPitch.ph or 0917-8136674.

The Final Pitch Season 6 will air Sundays (8:30 p.m.) beginning March 21. Replay 1 on Tuesdays (8:30 p.m.) and Replay 2 on Saturdays (11:30 a.m. for the initial episode. 11 a.m. for the succeeding episodes).

(For details, visit www.thefinalpitch.ph and follow its social media accounts at @TheFinalPitchPH on Facebook, @thefinalpitchph on Instagram, and @thefinalpitch on YouTube.)

To read the original article from the Philippine Star, click this link.

UnionBank nabs eight accolades at 11th Retail Banker International Awards

“Best Remittances Initiative” award for the Send-i2i solution

UnionBank of the Philippines (UnionBank) recently won big at the prestigious Retail Banker International (RBI) Asia Trailblazer Awards, where it was able to showcase its numerous innovations and milestones in digital banking and transformation in the past year.

Over the years, the Bank has won praise for these efforts from various local and international award-giving bodies, a testament to its accomplishments in creating
solutions that elevate lives and fulfills dreams.

For this year’s awarding ceremony, UnionBank’s 8 awards spanned over 4 major categories. “Best Remittances Initiative” award for the Bank’s Send-i2i solution. Send-i2i is a service that provides a cheaper, safer, and near real-time cross-border remittance from Singapore to anywhere in the Philippines, including far-flung communities often cut off from international payment systems. It streamlines the process for rural banks when receiving funds from overseas. From a timeframe of up to 20 days, Send-i2i rural banks will be able to receive remittances in mere seconds.

The Bank also took home the “Best ATM and Self-Service Innovation” award for Project BitBox, which introduced the first-ever virtual currency ATM in the country that is backed by the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), providing UnionBank customers with a secure and convenient way to convert their cash into cryptocurrency and vice versa.

For its Digital RM solution, UnionBank was awarded “Best Retail Bank – Philippines.” Through this innovation, managing a UnionBank account is now easier as customers can just reach out to their respective digital relationship managers for all concerns related to their account. It’s also one of two ways customers can open a new account online, the other option being the UnionBank Online app’s digital account opening feature.

Another winning project was the UnionBankGlobalLinker Trade Connect initiative, which was awarded “Best Social Media Marketing Campaign.” UnionBankGlobalLinker is an innovative free-to-use digital platform utilizing world-class technology that allows MSMEs to access business offers for a simpler, easier, profitable, and enjoyable experience to grow their business.  It flew out 25 Filipino Business owners to Singapore and attended Trade Connect, a cross border Global SME Meetup.

Aside from the four aforementioned awards, UnionBank also garnered commendations for four other initiatives, bringing the total number to eight accolades from the award-giving body.

Among these commendations is “Most Innovative Branch Offering” for The ARK, the country’s pioneering fully digital and paperless banking branch. UnionBank introduced the very first ARK branch back in 2017 with the goal of harnessing technology to revolutionize the way people look at banking. As of September 2020, the total number of ARK branches in the country is at 50.

The Bank also earned a “Best Staff Training and Development Programme” commendation for The ARK Ambassadors. Deployed in each ARK branch in place of tellers, the role of these ambassadors is to act as guides for customers, answering their queries and assisting them in the use of The ARK’s on-premise digital banking solutions.

UnionBank’s Machine Learning and AI in Business was commended for “Best Use of Machine Learning”. With the Bank’s strong data science/tech capabilities and rich historical data, it was able to develop and operationalize machine learning models throughout the organization.

And finally, for its agile work culture, the Bank received an “Excellence in Employee Engagement” commendation. A key component of the Bank’s digital transformation journey, the adoption of an agile mindset and corporate culture has allowed the Bank to digitize efficiently. It also continues to play a major role in the Bank’s ability to consistently deliver solutions that meet the ever-changing needs of customers.

UnionBank’s recent wins at the RBI Awards are the latest among accolades received this year alone, following the Bank’s recent naming in the BankQuality Consumer Survey on Retail Banks as the second most helpful bank in the Asia-Pacific Region during the COVID-19 pandemic in May this year.

Read the original article by Business World here.

Learn more about i2i here.

UBX wins Best Digital Community Impact Initiative Southeast Asia 2020

A digital revolution is underway in the Filipino finance market, with fintech champion UBX leading the charge. UBX serves as the fintech arm of local giant Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank), operating as a separate entity to manage tech initiatives, build platforms and make investments in fintechs. The UBX moniker is a clever representation of that mission statement: UnionBank to the power of x. It creates opportunities through collaborative partnerships and the application of innovative technology. The UBX line-up features UnionBank-incubated solutions such as the i2i and platforms such as BUX, Sentro and SeekCap.

BUX is an embedded eCommerce platform helping to grease e-commerce wheels. Sentro provides tools to build online stores in minutes. Blockchain-based i2i targets underbanked rural populations by connecting them to financial institutions across the country. The breakthrough solution has enabled citizens in hard-to-reach areas to access the government’s Covid-19 stimulus payments.

As a fintech, UBX is not constrained by traditional banking regulations and encourages out-of-the-box thinking to incorporate financial services into B2B, logistics and financial services ecosystems. The tactic has been proven to boost financial inclusion and promote growth.

UBX launched QLabs, where a talented tech team with blockchain and full-stack development capabilities helps companies on their own digital transformation journeys embed financial services into their consumers’ daily lives.

UBX has just celebrated its first anniversary, and the CFI.co judging panel is pleased to add another candle to the cake. UBX wins the 2020 award for Best Digital Community Impact Initiative (Southeast Asia).

To read the original article by CFI.co here.

UBX’s SeekCap among Phl’s top 7 fintech startups for 2020

Union Bank of the Philippines’ fintech unit UBX’s lending arm SeekCap was named as one of the top fintech firms in the country.

SeekCap, the lending marketplace of Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank)’s fintech arm UBX, has been cited as among top 7 fintech startups in the Philippines by  Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report.

This recognition comes barely six months after SeekCap was launched in November last year. SeekCap targets to cater to the underserved micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES) who make up the backbone of the Philippine economy.

In partnership with Ping An’s associate firm OneConnect Financial Technology, SeekCap aims to shorten the turnaround time in loan application.

According to Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report, fintech companies now compose 15% of Manila’s startups.

SeekCap, being one of them, has made significant strides and is seen to perform even better in the coming months, the report said. Most recently, SeekCap partnered with e-commerce giant Lazada to help more MSMEs get access to financing. To date, over 6,000 MSMEs have signed up, with a 300% increase in loan applications posted during the first quarter.

Read the original article by The Tribune here.