Unionbank’s fintech arm UBX to launch new open finance platform – xpanse

Xpanse onboards Alibaba Cloud as first partner
Xpanse onboards Alibaba Cloud as first partner

Closing large gaps in financial inclusion and MSME development in the Philippines has urged regulators to establish reforms such as open finance. In the simplest definition, open finance enables financial institutions to share data with each other through APIs and white-label products. The lack of access to consumer financial data handicaps financial institutions in providing key financial services such as lending and insurance causing the country’s large unbanked population to remain underserved. Open finance helps solve and alleviate this significant barrier to progression and inclusion. 

Last June 2021, Bangko Sentral Pilipinas (BSP) approved the new guidelines for the Open Finance Framework, allowing “consent-driven data portability, interoperability, and collaborative partnerships among financial institutions and third-party providers (TPPs).” 

Not just any open finance player

UBX, the fintech subsidiary of UnionBank of the Philippines, has already established its open finance footprint since 2018 with i2i – the country’s widest financial network and banking-as-a-service solution for financial service providers nationwide, boasting of hundreds of member institutions and thousands of agents to date.

Driving the momentum is xpanse, the newest addition to UBX’s portfolio of first-in-industry ventures – further solidifying UBX’s overall leadership in open finance. The xpanse platform provides a comprehensive suite of data, insights and solutions through direct APIs. Banks, fintechs and startups will be able to assess customers’ eligibility for products and services much faster and build highly-personalized products that are relevant to consumers with just a few lines of code. 

xpanse onboards Alibaba Cloud as first partner

Alibaba Cloud has partnered with xpanse to provide eKYC solutions to businesses. Alibaba Cloud provides Zoloz eKYC(Electronic Know Your Customer) solution to boost efficiency, reinforce system security by digitalizing the identity verification process of financial institutions and ventures. With Zoloz now in xpanse, developers can easily integrate cutting-edge eKYC technology towards their products and services through a single API integration.  This e-wallet security technology helps financial institutions meet regulatory compliance more easily.

“Alibaba Cloud shares UBX’s mission of enabling a financially inclusive society through accessible financial services, especially in the new normal. We believe our proven technologies in the e-wallet industry could assist UBX in promoting financial inclusion and equipping financial institutions in the Philippines with advanced solutions that operate seamlessly and reliably for end users,” said Allen Guo, Country Manager for the Philippines, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence. 

Gearing up for the future

As xpanse builds the biggest open finance platform and community in the Philippines, the team is actively networking with multiple partners across different sectors. 

“Open Finance is significantly changing the way financial institutions interact with each other and their customers. xpanse opens more transformational opportunities for these institutions to evolve their business through our already proven expertise in open finance and financial technology. The future of finance is here as xpanse pioneers services that will not only impact inclusion for Filipinos to formal banking and financing but also provide startups, financial institutions a way to use data for innovations and development.” 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 or contact agnescasal@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.

UnionBank, Maxicare and SeekCap partner to enable healthcare plans for MSMEs

Manila, Philippines – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges for businesses and transform the way they operate. In today’s business environment, it is important now more than ever to take care of the most important form of capital: People.

SeekCap, the first online lending marketplace in the Philippines, partners with Maxicare to offer loans to businesses availing of its healthcare plans for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). These healthcare plans will provide employees a high quality, full coverage HMO plan.

Maxicare customers, both existing and new, can apply for a UnionBank business loan online through SeekCap, UBX Philippine’s digital lending platform for Filipino businesses. These loans range from Php50,000 to Php1M and are repayable over a period of 36 months.

We are truly excited with this partnership with Maxicare as it enables Unionbank to extend its digital lending proposition to SMEs availing of Maxicare coverage and at the same time, serving an even greater purpose – to continue to keep their employees covered even during this pandemic”, said Manuel Santiago, Jr., Chief Mass Market and Financial Inclusion Executive.

Applying for a loan with SeekCap is simple and completely digital. Its ability to assist partner lenders in digitizing and automating their lending processes reduces processing time and lending costs. MSMEs may complete their application and receive approval in the comfort of their own home or office. By removing the need for physical paperwork and personal appearances at the bank, approvals that used to take days, if not weeks, are now completed within a single day. Over 40,000 MSMEs have registered on the platform since its launch, and over Php 2 billion in business loans have been processed.

Maxicare Healthcare Corporation is a pioneer in the HMO industry,\ providing comprehensive healthcare programs to Filipinos for over 30 years. Maxicare services over 1.5 million members across the country through company, family and individual plans.

Maxicare offers a portfolio of comprehensive HMO plans that cater to MSMEs: the Maxicare PLUS for companies with a minimum of 10 and up to 99 employees, with no limit to the number of enrollees or dependents; the Maxicare Starter Plan for micro businesses that have a minimum of 3 up to 9 employees, and can service up to 99 enrollees or dependents; and the Maxicare BusinessEssential, an affordable SME Healthcare Plan, that gives MSMEs the option to have an Outpatient Care Program or a full HMO program, for companies with a minimum of 3 up to 99 employees.

This partnership will enable continued business growth for MSMEs while keeping the best asset of every business – its employees – a priority. To know more about the program and avail of Maxicare’s HMO plans, visit https://www.maxicare.com.ph/healthcare-program-for-my-organization/

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About SeekCap- SeekCap is the first online lending marketplace in the Philippines. It was developed by UBX. UBX PH 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.

Learn more about the Maxicare SME Healthcare Plans x Unionbank Loan Program here.

To read the original article from Maxicare, click this link.

Visit SeekCap now: https://bit.ly/3e8HZwz

UnionBank lends P1.5 billion to MSMEs via SeekCap

MANILA, Philippines — Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines Inc. has disbursed P1.5 billion worth of loans to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) particularly those affected by the pandemic through its online lending platform.

UnionBank’s fintech arm UBX and Chinese financial conglomerate Ping An’s OneConnect Financial Technology Co. Ltd have enticed 38,000 small business owners to register in SeekCap since the first online lending marketplace in the Philippines was established in late 2019.

SeekCap has been a supporting pillar to MSMEs during these unprecedented challenging times.

With SeekCap, applying for a loan is easy and entirely digital. Its capacity and capability to help lenders digitize and automate their lending processes shortens processing time and lowers lending costs.

MSME owners complete their application and get approval quickly within the comfort of their home or workplace.

By eliminating submission of physical documents and personal appearance at the bank amid the pandemic, approvals that used to take days if not weeks are processed within the day.

UBX’s end-to-end digital lending technology allows the partner lenders to offer business loans as high as P20 million and interest rates as low as two percent to businesses nationwide.

In just a few clicks, Filipino business owners can apply for a loan product tailored to their needs, including finance for their inventory, equipment, payroll, marketing, receivables, and similar activities.

SeekCap has partnered with popular platforms used by MSMEs such as Lazada, FoodPanda, Sprout HR & Payroll Solutions, AlliancePOS, Taxumo, and Moneygment to tap and serve more MSMEs.

New lenders are constantly being added to SeekCap such as Bangko Kabayan and RAFI Microfinance joining UnionBank, Esquire, SeedIn, Right Choice Finance, and Zenith Capital.

Other ventures of SeekCap include i2i, offering digital transformation to financial institutions and community based financial service providers; Bux, an embeddable end-to-end payment platform with the most extensive network of payment options and locations in the Philippines; Sentro, a free online shop builder and QLab that offers digital transformation services to businesses.

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

Visit https://bit.ly/3dSKVgo for more information about SeekCap.

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.

UnionBank of the Philippines: Reaching the Underserved through Open APIs

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

Abstract

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.