It has big plans and financial inclusion is the core theme:
UNObank, a new star in the Philippine banking horizon It has big plans and financial inclusion is the core theme: UNO Digital Bank, better called 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 functional app. The bank was founded by an Indian origin global banker, Manish Bhai, who is now its President and CEO. The bank is headquartered in Singapore at its parent company UNOAsia. Manish Bhai says UNObank’s focus is on lending while it provides almost all the banking products and services, precisely deposits and transaction processing, with insurance and investments set to be introduced soon. Another core area of activity is financial inclusion, he adds.
UNObank’s parent company UNOAsia secured $11 million in a pre-Series A funding round recently for the neobank.
INDIAN AT THE HELM
Manish Bhai has been with Citibank and Societe Generale in India, Indonesia and Singapore. He was Citi’s MD and Asia Pacific Head of Institutional FX Sales, before he left to set up an AI and digital solutions company. Then, in 2020 he teamed up with Kalidas Ghose, a former banker who since 2015 has served as CEO and vice chair of FE Credit, a Vietnamese based finance business, to establish the fintech and digital banking platform, UNOAsia. The company aims to operate banking licenses in Asian markets and their immediate focus is the Philippines. It received the central bank’s license in June 2021 and the business was incorporated in October that year.
Its immediate pre-occupation is to use deposits and transactions to get people to use its wallet, build data profiles and then rely on lending to scale. The bank has adopted a unique strategy – to outsource any functions that can be accessed off-the-shelf as subscriptions, and which can be plugged in as needed. The neobank is using AWS for cloud, Mambu for core banking, HPS for credit-card processing, and Oracle for reporting on AML compliance.
UNObank’s operations are totally online. A customer need not go to a physical branch to open a bank account or apply for a cash loan. All the transactions take place on the mobile app. Deposits are insured by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation securing each depositor up to ₱500,000.
UNIQUE LOAN PRODUCT
What is unique about the bank is its loan product. One can get a loan in just a few taps on the mobile phone. One can apply for a loan without any collateral or a guarantor and for any need from ₱10,000 to ₱200,000. Once the loan is approved it will be deposited in the UNObank account. Repayment too is through the mobile app and the schedule can be 6, 12, 18, 24, or 36 months at competitive interest rates – as low as 1.79% per month.
The UNObank savings account is often described as a tool to build a secure financial foundation. The neobank offers high interest rates, which helps the money grow faster. In addition, it offers time deposits, and also competitive interest rates. 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.
The neobank has investment schemes designed to match one’s risk tolerance and financial goals.
It allows free ATM withdrawals at over 7500 partner ATMs across the Philippines. There are also free cash-in and cash-out transactions at over 4500 partner outlets.
A word about the mobile app. It has an intuitive interface allowing customers to manage their accounts, conduct transactions and access various banking services with ease and convenience.
UNObank has recently 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 more efficient manner.
Filipinos today see UNObank as a valuable option for a simple, convenient and secure way of banking. The Philippines has one of the lowest banking penetrations in the whole of Southeast Asia and UNObank aims to help bridge the financial inclusion gap in the country and the region.
UNOAsia, its founding entity, being a leading fintech is Singapore, is of immense advantage for the neobank in terms of using the latest technologies. Even at the time of it’s starting the operations, it had a robust, highly secure digital banking platform, capable of creating unique, customized solutions for the customers.