UBX Philippines leads Open Finance revolution with i2i

Millions of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMES) in the country, which include sari-sari store owners, carinderia operators, and stall owners in public markets, rely on small loans to keep their businesses going.

These underserved Filipinos need better financial services, such as faster credit access from legitimate and reputable lenders.

Open Finance and payments platform i2i has been providing financial services to micro business owners like Mang Efren, a vegetable stall owner in Cebu.

Mang Efren was able to pick up his approved loan proceeds conveniently from the nearest partner remittance center through i2i, currently the fastest-growing Open Finance and payments platform in the country.

UBX Philippines, the financial technology venture studio of Unionbank of the Philippines, has been at the forefront of promoting an Open Finance ecosystem with i2i since the service was introduced in 2018.

i2i connects hundreds of banks and community-based financial service providers to each other, the National Retail Payment System (NRPS), and the largest remittance channels.

The platform provides enabling technologies that connect financial institutions directly to the country’s various financial ecosystems. It makes possible the interoperability among financial services providers with payments, disbursements, collections and transfer facilities. Thus, allowing more Filipinos like Mang Efren to enjoy faster access to financial services that are driven by technology and innovation.

“At UBX, our vision is simple – providing opportunity and access to all. That’s why we developed i2i as an Open Finance network built on top of blockchain technology and API-based integration across member banks and financial service providers. In one movement, it digitally transforms these institutions, allowing fintechs and digital platforms to innovate across the network, while providing new, cost-effective services and solutions to consumers,” said John Januszczak, UBX President and CEO.

Another feature of i2i service is Openi2i, a banking-as-a-service platform and developer ecosystem that allows partners to integrate financial services directly into their systems. Openi2i can link the largest banks to community-based financial service providers to each other, or fintechs to digital platforms.

A beneficiary of the Openi2i is the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), which has been providing microfinance services to hundreds of thousands of micro-entrepreneurs in underserved communities across the country.

RAFI’s partnership with i2i has resulted in the increase in the number of customers who have accessed their loan proceeds. It has also helped grow RAFI’s collection capabilities.

“With the direct integration of our core banking system and Openi2i, our members now have options of getting their loan proceeds through i2i’s existing remittance partners. They get their money at the most convenient place possible. It has also allowed the enterprise access to more competitive rates across different channels,” according to Iris Dorado, RAFI Vice President of Business Development.

Another happy client is MYEG Philippines, an e-government solutions and payment services provider who partnered with i2i in 2020. The company was able to expand its access to hundreds of counters through Openi2i network with a single integration.

“A critical addition to the MyEG Philippines platform—these are invaluable payments and collections points for our customers all over the country,” said Ann Saldaña, MyEG Philippines Inc. Chief Executive Officer.

Though just starting in the Philippines, the Open Finance system is becoming more and more embraced by the population who are already reaping the benefits of the technology that allows them to do banking services conveniently.

Recently, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has announced the approval of the Open Finance Framework guidelines, which is a key step that will encourage active partnership, interoperability and data portability among financial institutions and fintech players.

Open Finance opens opportunities for customers and providers alike as it promotes accessibility and inclusivity through customer-permissioned data, creation of personalized financial services, and better credit approval workflows.

A gamer-changer in the Open Finance space, i2i boasts of hundreds of member institutions and over 1,700 agents across the country. It provides fund transfers, bills payments, mobile ATM, disbursements, and a host of services that are accessible in bank branches, local remittance counters, and merchant locations.

Anne Yosuico, Product Lead for i2i explains, “There’s a clear reason why we do what we do in i2i. We run the country’s first Open Finance platform and network that enables service providers to bring financial services closer to the underbanked and unbanked. i2i makes a difference in Filipinos’ lives everyday. We #includeeveryone!”

For its impact on financial inclusion in the Philippines, i2i bagged the awards “Best Digital Financial Inclusion Project – Philippines” from The Asset Triple A Digital Awards, and Operating Model Master for the Philippines from the 2019 IDC Digital Transformer Awards.

To read the original article, click this link.

Visit i2i now: https://bit.ly/2SVFHtc

UBX recognized anew as Fastest Growing FinTech Company in South East Asia for 2021

Global Banking and Finance Review, a leading online and print finance publication, named UBX as the Fastest Growing Fintech Company in South East Asia for 2021. This is the second year in a row that UBX was recognized with this award.

With this back-to-back recognition, UBX demonstrates that it is living up to its mission of creating opportunity and access to financial services for everyone by designing solutions for digitally and financially underserved communities.

Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) spun off its fintech venture studio and fund, UBX, in 2018, two years after embarking on its digital transformation. UBX envisions a world in which financial services are effortlessly integrated into the activities and experiences that really matter to businesses and people.

UBX’s i2i, the nation’s fastest growing payments network, digitally enables financial institutions and other community based financial service providers. In a timely response to the pandemic and the need to digitally enable distribution and access to funds, i2i built its Mobile ATM that brings ATM services to the community while also providing an additional source of income to businesses. Reducing travel and bringing cash distribution closer to home means safer access to funds while saving ATM customers time and money. Monthly i2i Mobile ATM volumes rose 3000% in the last six months of 2020. In 2021, i2i acquired over 1,500 new financial service providers and agents to the network via a joint venture with the Irish financial services technology giant Fexco.

Elsie Dizon, an i2i Mobile ATM sari-sari store owner partner, said, “Natutuwa ako kasi kahit wala pang isang buwan ang aking i2i MATM business, nadagdagan na ‘yung customers ko. At siyempre namimili din sila ng ilang items sa tindahan ko pagkatapos nilang mag-withdraw. Masaya din sila kasi merong mas malapit na ATM services sa kanila at kahit sa ibang barangay, dito rin sila nagwi-withdraw sa akin. Nagpapasalamat ako sa i2i Mobile ATM dahil nadagdagan ang kabuhayan ko.”

“I’m glad because even though my i2i MATM business is less than a month old, my customers have increased. And of course, they also buy some items in my store after they withdraw. They are also happy because ATM services are closer to them now and even in other barangays, they also withdraw from my store. I am really thankful to i2i Mobile ATM because it has helped grow my livelihood.”

UBX also has SeekCap, the country’s first online lending marketplace, which has the capacity and capability to facilitate lenders in scaling their lending processes through innovative technology, as well as enable business owners to access credit digitally with faster turnaround time and less hassle. Application, processing and disbursement is purely digital. To date, over 40,000 MSMEs have registered on SeekCap and the marketplace has processed over P2 billion worth of business loans.

As ecommerce sites grow in popularity, most Filipinos are shifting to online payments and going digital when it comes to shopping. UBX’s Bux and Sentro solutions empower both merchants and consumers through technology.

Bux is UBX’s end-to-end payment gateway for all businesses – from the smallest casual seller to the largest enterprise. With over 100,000 businesses signed up, it continues to grow during this pandemic. Recently features launched include Universal QR code, digital checkout and Shopify integration.

“Our store J&A Tickets and Tours is very happy working with BUX and Sentro. It enables our stores to secure payments from our clients thru our Facebook pages. We are able to help travelers to save money by accepting payments without remittance charges. We are able to grow the number of affiliate agents we have. We are able to leverage our services and maximize the benefits of our contracts with the suppliers. Thank you for empowering our store in the countryside.” from John Pineda, Owner of J&A Tickets and Tours

The country’s first free online Shop Builder, Sentro, celebrates its first year of delivering an all-in-one ecommerce platform for Filipino business owners to jump-start, run, and grow their enterprises. To date, it powers over 30,000 merchants across the country. Facebook Business Shop owners can link their stores to Sentro. This enables them to convert their stores from a marketing outlet to a full-fledged e-commerce store. Within minutes, Facebook Shop business owners can automatically accept payments, handle orders, and book deliveries through Sentro from their supercharged Facebook Shop.

UBX also has QLabs, a one-stop shop for web, mobile, and platforms design and development. It co-creates solutions for businesses, powered by a team equipped with full-stack development capabilities and end-to-end services. QLABs developed PERA HUB’s mobile application to implement their bills payment feature. This allows customers to use the PERA HUB application to pay bills to over 3000 merchants. UBX is the gateway to fintech in the Philippines.

With the uncertainties and challenges brought by the pandemic, one thing’s for sure – UBX continues to create digital platforms and marketplaces providing opportunity and access for digitally and financially underserved Filipino communities.

To read the original article from Manila Bulletin, click here.

i2i Mobile ATM marks first year providing digitally-enabled fund access to communities

i2i, the nation’s fastest growing payments and cash disbursement network, celebrates the first anniversary since the launch of its groundbreaking Mobile ATM solution.

Developed and operated by UBX, UnionBank’s fintech spin-off, the i2i platform digitally enables financial institutions and other community based financial service providers to drive financial inclusion in the country.

i2i Mobile ATM was a timely response to the pandemic and the need to digitally enable distribution and access to funds. In the last 6 months of 2020, i2i Mobile ATM volumes increased 3000% monthly. In 2021, i2i kicked off the year by welcoming over 1,300 new financial service providers and agents to the network via a joint venture with the Irish financial services technology giant Fexco.

Robert Serdena, the owner of Rodhess Ticketing and Travel Services, i2i Mobile ATM’s first partner, said, “Salamat nalang at nakilala ko si i2i Mobile ATM. Malaking naitulong nito sa aking pangkabuhayan. Subalit hindi lamang sa pangkabuhayan, malaking tulong din ito sa aking mga kabarangay dahil hindi na nila kailangan mag-biyahe ng lima hanggang sampung kilometro para mag-withdraw sa pinakamalapit na ATM dito sa aming lugar.” 

i2i Mobile ATM provided significant support to communities and businesses during the pandemic. It brings ATM services to the community while providing an additional source of income for small businesses. Reducing travel and bringing cash distribution closer to home means safer access to funds while saving ATM customers time and money.

One of i2i Mobile ATM’s sari-sari store owner partners, Elsie Dizon, said “Natutuwa ako kasi kahit wala pa akong isang buwan, nadagdagan ‘yung customers ko. At siyempre dahil naka-withdraw na sila, may pera na sila, namimili din sila ng ilang items sa tindahan ko. Masaya din sila kasi merong mas malapit at kahit sa ibang barangay, dito rin sila nagwi-withdraw sa akin. Nagpapasalamat ako sa i2i Mobile ATM dahil nadagdagan ang kabuhayan ko.”

As community-based financial service providers, i2i Mobile ATM partners are essential for many, including pensioners. This at-risk population cannot travel to nearby towns or the nearest ATM, either of which could be several kilometers away. i2i Mobile ATM provides safer access to DSWD 4Ps & SAP program beneficiaries closer to home in far-flung or remote areas. At the same time, small businesses directly affected by the quarantine like travel & tour operators, sari-sari stores and carinderias have found an alternative line of business in the midst of the pandemic. i2i Mobile ATM has augmented the incomes of these entrepreneurs and SMEs who may now recycle otherwise idle liquidity for an additional source of revenue.

More Filipino business owners are signing up for i2i Mobile ATM for additional income. The i2i team conducts webinars every 2 weeks to assist interested business owners. To learn more about i2i Mobile ATM, follow i2i and i2i Mobile ATM Philippines on Facebook. You may also visit https://www.i2i.ph.

To read the original article from BigTito.net, 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.

Rural bank members of UBX’s i2i platform help facilitate SAP distribution

Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank)’s fintech arm UBX is leveraging its i2i network of rural banks for the distribution of the second tranche of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

UBX has partnered with UnionBank, one of six financial service providers appointed by the government to enable the electronic payment of the second wave of emergency subsidies for Filipinos hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

These rural bank partners include MVSM Bank, Country Builders Bank Inc., Saviour Rural Bank Inc., City Savings Bank Inc., Bangko Kabayan, Inc., New Rural Bank of San Leonardo, GM Bank of Luzon Inc., Guagua Rural Bank, Quezon Capital Rural Bank Inc., and Fairbank and Rural Bank of Barili.

i2i member branches are strategically located across the country, including remote areas, which helped in expediting the disbursement.

i2i rural bank members are walking the extra mile, going to locations that are more convenient for the beneficiaries. Thousands of the recipients in areas such as Batangs, Quezon, and Rizal, will receive assistance through i2i.

“We want to provide a comfortable and efficient way of distributing the (government) aid,” said Gigette De Luna, President of MVSM Bank, the first i2i member to pilot this initiative. “At the same time, we make sure that we follow the health and safety restrictions in order to protect the men and women of MVSM Bank and the general public.”

For the original article from Back End News, click this link.

Visit i2i now: https://bit.ly/3qNsZJr

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.

UnionBank of the Philippines: Reaching the Underserved through Open APIs

Winner of Celent Model Bank 2020 Award for Financial Inclusion (Part I)


Typically, most financial inclusion initiatives focus on developing propositions aimed at underbanked end users (“B2C approach”). It is less common for a financial institution to focus on enabling third parties to develop or provide such propositions (“B2B2C approach”). Yet, this is exactly the approach that the Union Bank of the Philippines took for financial inclusion, as demonstrated with two of their initiatives, API Marketplace and Send-i2i.

This is Part I of the case study of UnionBank’s award-winning projects, and profiles the bank’s API Marketplace. The Send-i2i initiative is described in Part II, Union Bank of the Philippines: Blockchain to bring Digital Payments to Rural Banks.

Having undertaken a major rearchitecture of its core systems, UnionBank decided to expose a range of application programming interfaces (APIs) through a developer-friendly Marketplace. This has successfully enabled the bank to significantly expand its customer base and transaction volume.

Read the original report by Celent here.