Philippines’ UnionBank has expressed their intention to invest around $US 26 Million into incubating or buying technology ventures where financial services could be wired into, and they’ll be refreshing the fund every year, according to Inquirer.net,
UnionBank is among Philippines’ largest banking institutions and is currently undertaking a future-proofing exercise on its core banking operations. Beyond that, its new fintech arm will also be looking into other monetisation avenues outside of traditional banking.
The investments will be made via its fintech/innovation arm, UBX Philippines Corp. The new venture will house UnionBank’s technology initiatives and experimentation, as well as ecosystem platform development projects. UBX’s platforms are envisioned particularly with potential for embedding with financial services.
In fact, UBX’s main thrust is said to be in investing into companies with complementary capabilities. The company is developing platforms to go to market with business models beyond traditional banking operations.
The bank has showcased interest in developing in-house solutions, but the $US 26 Million funding is available for external companies as long as they share the same objectives.
To that end, UBX’s first external investment follows in these principles. This month, UBX bought 30% into Shiptek Solutions, a creator of shipping and logistics digital marketplace which connects the shipping ecosystem in real-time, 24/7. UBX thinks that they could embed financial services into a similar ecosystem with ease.
One of UnionBank’s projects now parked under UBX is the i2i platform, which aims to bring the nearly 70% of unbanked Filipinos into the financial system by connecting rural banks to the country’s main financial network.
The project is in partnership with ConsenSys Solutions, Kaleido, Amazon AWS, ConsenSys Diligence, Microsoft Azure, and seven rural Philippine banks to create an inter-rural bank payment platform using Enterprise Ethereum.
With the rural banking platform project, UnionBank will serve as the licensor for the platform and leave it up to individual banks to develop a mobile app to cater to the rural unbanked’s needs—and even potentially do a better job of it than UnionBank could ever dream.
At the very least, one can’t say that UnionBank has any qualms about adapting to technologies like blockchain, between the rural bank network and their cryptocurrency ATMs earlier this year. The launch of the rural banking network does indicate that the bank, and by extension the innovation bank, has an interest in thinking about unique solutions to cater to real pain points felt by Filipinos.
Between that, and UnionBank’s obvious slant towards platformisation of its services, soon many may Philippine sectors may find themselves interacting with UnionBank’s offerings one way or another, even if the customer may not be fully aware of it.
Featured image via UnionBank