Besting 17 major banks from the Asia-Pacific region, The ARK branch of Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) was recently honored as "Best Customer Experience (C/X) - Branch" in the Asia-Pacific during the Retail Banker International Customer Experience in Financial Services (CFXS) Awards held in Singapore.
The CFXS Awards – which brings together the best and most innovative financial institutions and projects in Asia-Pacific over the last 18 months - recognized UnionBank for utilizing digital technology to augment banking experience and address common pain points in banking.
As the digital-banking trailblazer, UnionBank is using its technology to lead branch transformation via The ARK – the first fully digital bank branch in the Philippines - to make it quick, safe and convenient for all its customers to transition to 24X7, mobile banking.
Located at the Insular Life building along Ayala Avenue in Makati, The ARK is the first-of-its-kind in the Philippines, demonstrating a transformation of space, people and processes to deliver a suite of digital experiences, products and transactions. Simply put, there are no queues, no bank tellers, no papers to fill-out at The ARK.
Everything is carried out through self-service machines or tablets, though there are what they call the "Branch Ambassadors" ready to offer customer advice and guidance on financial tools, opportunities and other financial services the bank has to offer. Other services on "free" offer are great-tasting coffee and seamless internet connection!
Ultimately, the ARK aims to provide the right combination of friendly-physical and efficiently-digital experience to make it a preferred "third space" – an oasis destination before, during and after regular work-hours - of its customers.
UnionBank Chief User Experience (U/X) Officer Ana Delgado said that "The ARK is designed to also provide the environment for offsite productivity and encouraging creative, ideas not only from its partners but from its clients as well."
Alongside this, The ARK is at the forefront of digital branch banking in the Philippines, digitizing branch transactions for customers including product application. Customers fill out their transactions via a tablet handed to them, and receive digital transaction receipts through email or SMS.
This cuts down the turn-around time to process transactions especially in account opening from an average of one hour to an average of 15 minutes, according to Delgado.
The ARK launched four new machines including a virtual teller machine – the first in the Philippines – which provides virtual customer service, cash deposit and cash withdrawal. In the future, it would also include virtual account opening and card issuance, biometrics and QR code, cardless withdrawal and passbook update.
Other innovations and features are augmented and virtual-reality experiences for home and auto loans, screens - instead of posters - for marketing zones, as well as the ability to pre-order or "make a specific-time appointment" for transactions through UnionBank Online.
Delgado stressed that secure and safe transactions are part and parcel of their innovations, as The ARK is the first bank in the Philippines to use the cloud-based Appian platform for its transactions, as approved by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. "Appian enabled the bank to rapidly develop automated processes and applications," she said.
Delgado believes UnionBank spearheaded branch transformation in the Philippines with customer experience as focal point.
"The ARK by UnionBank hopes to win over customers who are comfortable with digital technology or are interested to experience this first-hand; but still prefer the warmth of face-to-face transactions," she said.
As validated by the CFXS award, The ARK – barely a year since its launch - is on the right track in providing game-changing customer experience in branch banking – not just in the Philippines but throughout the region.