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First fintech in SE Asia to win a digital banking license

UNObank has ambition plans for which the core is financial inclusion:

First fintech in SE Asia to win a digital banking license

UNO Digital Bank, popularly known as UNObank, is the first full-spectrum digital bank licensed and regulated by the Philippine regulator Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The neobank has a comprehensive range of banking products and services, accessible through a mobile app.

The bank was founded, not by a Filipino, by an Indian origin global banker, Manish Bhai, who is its President & CEO. The bank is headquartered in Singapore at its parent company UNOAsia. Manish Bhai says UNObank’s focus is on lending even as it provides a wide range of banking products and services, such as deposits and transaction processing. It will soon offer insurance and investments as well. Its core area of activity is financial inclusion.

UNObank’s parent company UNOAsia secured $11 million in a pre-Series A funding round recently for the neobank. Deposits are insured by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation, securing each depositor up to ₱500,000.

INDIAN AT THE HELM

Manish Bhai has worked at marquee banks – Citibank and Societe Generale – in India, Indonesia and Singapore. He was Citi’s MD and Asia Pacific Head of Institutional FX Sales, from where he moved on to set up an AI and digital solutions company. His fintech journey got a boost in 2020 when he teamed up with Kalidas Ghose, a former banker who since 2015 served as CEO and vice chair of FE Credit, a well know Vietnamese lender. Together they established the fintech and digital banking platform UNOAsia. The company aims to operate as a bank in Asian markets and its immediate focus is Philippines. It received the central bank’s license in June 2021 and the business was incorporated in October the same year.

So what is the business strategy – it is to use deposits and transactions to get customers to start using its wallet, use that to build data profiles and then use that for lending on scale. The bank’s technology strategy too is pretty unique – it outsources any function that can be accessed as off-the-shelf subscriptions and which can be plugged in as needed. The neobank has carefully chosen its tech partners – AWS for cloud, Mambu for core banking, HPS for credit-card processing, and Oracle for reporting on AML compliance. This helps it shorten the time to access new technologies and roll out new features.

Even to open account or apply for a loan, one does not have to visit the bank’s branch. All can be done on the mobile app.

LOANS & SAVINGS

What is notable about the bank is how easy it is to apply for a loan – a few taps on the mobile phone is all that is needed. A customer can apply for a loan without any collateral or a guarantor and for any need in the range of ₱10,000-200,000. Once the loan is approved, funds are transferred in the UNObank account. Repayment too is through the mobile app. Customers have a wide choice of repayment ranging from 6 months to 36 months, and the competitive interest rate can are as low as 1.79% per month.

The UNObank savings account is often described as tool to build a secure financial foundation. The neobank offers high-interest rates on savings and term deposits. In addition, there is a rewards program for customers. The bank does not insist on customers maintaining a balance and minimum deposit. Besides, it operates 24×7.

Customer conveniences are aplenty. It allows free ATM withdrawals at over 7500 partner ATMs across the Philippines. There is also free cash-in and cash-out transactions at over 4500 partner outlets. The mobile app has an intuitive interface giving customers ease and convenience for managing their accounts, conducting transactions and accessing various banking services.

COLLABORATION WIDENS REACH

UNObank has collaborated with Collabera Digital, which provides digital engineering services, and hopes to increase and expand its user base through developing and integrating a mini application in GCash, the largest fintech and lifestyle super app in the Philippines. This may help the bank to attract millions of GCash users. GCash is owned by Mynt and it provides convenient and secure financial services to its users and is a major player in the country’s financial inclusion agenda. Using the app, one can send money, pay bills, carry out e-commerce, make savings, investments and insurance and do lending. It is expected that the joint efforts of UNObank, GCash and Collabera Digital will help the people of the country to access financial services in an easier and efficient manner.

So many Filipinos today see UNObank as a valuable option for a simple, convenient and secure way to do their banking. Philippines has one of the lowest banking penetration in the whole of South East Asia, and UNObank is one of the key players that is fixing it.

UNOAsia, its founding entity, being a leading fintech is Singapore, gives the neobank and immense advantage when it comes to deploying the latest technologies. Right from the day it started operations, it had a robust, highly secure digital banking platform, capable of creating unique, customized solutions for the customers…..and this continues.


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This article has been compiled based on publicly available information on the web, particularly the bank’s own website.

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