Founding chairman of Fintech Alliance PH, Lito Villanueva, has been recognized as the “Digital Leader of the Year” at the prestigious PhilSec Awards 2023. The ceremony took place last week at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila. Villanueva is also executive vice president of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.
Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) is a major player today at the forefront of Phillipine Fintech. Founded in 1960, by Alfonso T. Yuchengco, the financial institution offers a wide range of banking and financial services.
A pioneer in Fintech
Under Villanueva’s leadership, RCBC introduced several pioneering digital finance solutions. These include the RCBC Digital, a comprehensive digital banking app; RCBC DiskarTech, the first multi-lingual financial inclusion mobile app in the country, available in both Taglish and Cebuano languages; RCBC ATM Go, the Philippines’ first neighborhood ATM and the largest last-mile mobile ATM network; and RCBC MoneyBela Barangayan Banking, an innovative physical-digital (phygital) blending banking experience specifically designed for rural communities.
The PhilSec Awards honor individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, vision, and groundbreaking contributions to the cybersecurity landscape in the Philippines. The nominees were meticulously evaluated by a distinguished jury panel composed of esteemed figures such as Col. Joey Fontiveros and LCol. Francel Margareth Taborlupa from the Philippine Army, Dr. Mary Joy Abueg, President of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines, former assistant secretary Allan Cabanlong from the Department of Information and Communications Technology, and Mel Migrino, Chairman and President of Women in Security Alliance Philippines.
Expressing his gratitude, Villanueva emphasized that this recognition reflects the unwavering commitment and resilience of digital players and organizations in ensuring the safety, protection, and value of consumers. He further encouraged individuals to continue trusting and embracing digital finance in their daily lives.
Villanueva’s final remarks highlighted the profound impact of their collective efforts, inspiring more Filipinos to place their trust, dreams, and aspirations in digital finance. He expressed hope that through these endeavors, individuals will be empowered to achieve their full potential and make meaningful contributions to the welfare of their families and communities.
Fintech services attracted 1.4 million new customers
The Filipino banking industry, aiming to reach 20 percent digitalization by 2020, exceeded expectations. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) predicts that by end of 2023, 50 percent of transactions will be digitalized, bringing the country closer to its goal of including 70 percent of adult Filipinos in the formal financial system within two years.
Before the pandemic, a significant portion of the Filipino population lacked access to banking services, with only 10 percent utilizing digital banking. Many workers on minimum wage are primarily concerned with day-to-day survival rather than opening bank accounts due to limited access and the geographical isolation of certain areas.
During the pandemic, in-person transactions became nearly impossible due to physical distancing measures. This situation further marginalized the underbanked and underserved populations.
RCBC, at the onset of the pandemic, led a significant private initiative to distribute government aid to Filipinos nationwide. To date, the bank has disbursed over $319.9 million (PHP16.13 billion) in financial aid to more than 4.5 million low-income families across 73 out of 81 Philippine provinces.
The connection between digital transformation and financial inclusion has been crucial for RCBC. RCBC has witnessed impressive results, with significant increases in transactions through its digital platforms. The bank onboarded over 1.4 million customers onto its digital finance platforms during the pandemic.
Total deposits grew by $24.2 billion YoY
RCBC leverages various digital technologies to promote financial inclusion, including cloud computing for speed and scale, AI/ML for personalized solutions, facial recognition software for secure onboarding, eKYC for enhanced data privacy, and chatbots for efficient customer support.
Language barriers have been a significant obstacle to banking, especially digital banking. Traditional banks can be intimidating to low-income customers due to complex language and banking jargon. To bridge this gap, RCBC streamlined its digital platforms, ensuring intuitive user experiences for clients across all segments.
RCBC offers multiple digital platforms to cater to various customer segments. This includes RCBC Online and Mobile for tech-savvy individuals, ATM Go for remote areas, and DiskarTech for the unbanked and underserved populations. DiskarTech, RCBC’s primary financial inclusion super app, utilizes a user interface that combines Taglish (Filipino-English vernacular) and now Cebuano to explain features, making it more relatable and accessible.
The number of banked adult Filipinos has steadily increased, reflecting the effectiveness of digital banking initiatives. Total deposits grew by $24.2 billion in one year, and more customers are saving money.