UnionBank CEO tips coronavirus to end cash, accelerate banks’ digital plans
The head of UnionBank of the Philippines tells Euromoney that Covid-19 will spell the end of cash and boost the prospects of banks that offer customers the best digital banking services.
That the west was unprepared for coronavirus hardly needs stating. Pandemics emerge from China every few decades and, in a world where more people live in big cities, the time between outbreaks is only likely to shorten.
But not everyone in Asia was taken unaware. In Taiwan the number of cases counts in the dozens rather than thousands due to a willingness to act early, in December, sharing information and using big data to analyze the spread of Covid-19.
Some banks were also quick to act. When Euromoney talks to Edwin Bautista, president and chief executive of UnionBank of the Philippines – the country’s ninth-largest lender by assets but by far its most digitally advanced – talk quickly turns to speed off the blocks.
“We began monitoring Covid-19 starting in January when the epicentre was then in Wuhan,” he says. “As a result, we activated our business continuity plan.” It opened several offsite “command-and-control systems for our digital systems” and ordered all non-frontline staff to work from home.