Technology

Bank On Wheels: UnionBank brings digital branch to you

Henry Aguda, SEVP, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, and Chief Transformation Officer of UnionBank, says Bank On Wheels is a moving version of of their fully digital bank branch called The ARK.
Henry Aguda, SEVP, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, and Chief Transformation Officer of UnionBank, says Bank On Wheels is a moving version of of their fully digital bank branch called The ARK.

Find it a hassle to go to your bank branch, especially during this community quarantine? With Bank On Wheels, UnionBank of the Philippines has been bringing the branch to its customers.

Bank On Wheels is the country’s first 5G mobile banking kiosk. UnionBank launched it shortly before the announcement of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). This was actually serendipitous, according to Henry Aguda. Aguda is UnionBank’s SEVP, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, and Chief Transformation Officer.

Addressing needs of Filipinos

The Bank On Wheels 5G-enabled van.

“Our president and CEO Edwin Bautista has always envisioned a modern and smart rendition of a mobile banking kiosk. A moving version of our fully digital bank branch which we call The ARK. This idea has come to fruition, with our very own Bank On Wheels launched last March 6 at one of our busiest branches in Quezon City,” Aguda told Digital Life Asia.

Apart from allowing customers to do their transactions, Bank On Wheels lets them experience UnionBank’s digital services.

“In our Bank On Wheels, our customers can do balance inquiries, withdrawals, bills payments, funds transfer, and even account opening. And because it is 5G-enabled, UnionBank can leverage higher bandwidth and a faster internet connection. Twenty times faster than other networks — for better and more reliable digital services,” Aguda said.

“Our Bank On Wheels was particularly meant to boost our cash services during the monthly GSIS pension payouts which occur every eighth of the month. It was serendipitous to have launched it the week before the ECQ was declared. But it also prepared us for a much higher purpose of extending the reach of our banking services during the lockdown. They say that fortune favors the bold,” he said.

Response of customers

Aguda said Bank On Wheels has been all over Metro Manila during the ECQ.

“It’s very heartwarming how people have this impression that we have a fleet of Bank On Wheels because our single unit has been rolling around 40 locations in the past 40 days. These areas cover from as far Cavite in the south to Navotas in the north and more than a dozen other places in between. Stay tuned as UnionBank launches another 5G-enabled Bank On Wheels soon,” he said.

Customers can also expect to find other innovative uses for Bank On Wheels even after the community quarantine ends.

“This pandemic has disrupted all sectors of our society and the economy. But you see, UnionBank has been disrupting itself for years. This 5G-enabled Bank On Wheels is another product of that agile spirit of disruption that we foster in the bank. It shall occupy a space in the new normal and the ecosystem that ensues,” Aguda said.

5G and IoT

With the advent of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) will become ubiquitous. I asked Aguda to share UnionBank’s vision for 5G and IoT. How will they change the way we bank?

“We are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. With the breakthroughs in IoT and AI boosted by 5G services when fully available, UnionBank will advance wireless banking services to the greater many, connecting individuals and businesses to enhance not only commerce but society as a whole,” he said.

“5G will become the medium for consumers to experience new banking services embedded on their phones, wearables, and smart devices. 5G and IoT will enrich transactions and bring forth new services by leveraging on AI that will automate in real-time many simultaneous processes from big data. By using a combination of these technologies, this will give birth to Smart Cities and Smart Communities wherein financial services become a seamless transactional experience.”

To quote one of my favorite science fiction writers and the father of cyberpunk William Gibson: “The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.”

That future may already be coming to you, thanks to a Bank On Wheels near you.