Open banking, which uses application programming interface or APIs for shared data, has democratized the delivery of financial services in recent years. With this, traditional financial institutions are faced with the challenge brought about by many fintechs which rapidly reshape the industry.
“At the end of the day, finance is about people and enabling people. It is not people living for finance.” This is from Dr. David Hardoon, Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) Senior Advisor for Data and Artificial Intelligence, on how the Bank welcomed the rapid development of open banking.
Dr. Hardoon shared the Bank’s digital transformation approach when it comes to application programming interface or APIs and open banking in the Planet of the APIs discussion at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2020.
“Rather than treating it as a threat, we have to do two fundamental things. One, is to accept that this is going to be a reality… and the approach that we’re doing is to focus on the end goal which is financial inclusion, especially in the Philippines. It’s about making a difference and how to get to the 60-65% of the population which is not banked or underserved,” added Dr. Hardoon.
He also shared that UnionBank is focusing on how to leverage on data, the APIs and the evolving ecosystem. True to this mission, UnionBank was the first local bank to expose its APIs externally in 2016 during its first ‘Hackathon.’ The Bank’s developer portal now contains UnionBank’s set of APIs available for developers especially fintechs who want to create new technology to extend financial services to the public.
Because of this early adoption, UnionBank was able to use its innovations even during the pandemic. One of which is to help the government disburse social amelioration funds which provided financial support to those who were in need during the start of the pandemic. This was made possible by the Bank’s i2i network which connected rural banks and enabled distribution of the funds.
“This is about how we fundamentally leverage all these technology and capabilities. But at the end of the day, putting it together, not as not a theoretical concept or proof of concept that never leaves the lab, but an actuality. Putting aside our competitive nature in order to result in an impact and making a difference,” shared by Dr. Hardoon.
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