How RCBC became a top digital bank

How RCBC became a top digital bank

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. decided to forego branch expansion amid the pandemic last year and shifted its priorities to digital banking that quickly saw an exponential growth in transaction volume and value over the past 12 months.

The result is a new leader in digital banking—DisKartech—an app that has become popular in the provinces and among millennials–the specific markets which the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas wanted banks to focus on to promote inclusive banking.

DisKartech is a Cloud-based app that was downloaded a million times within a month of launch, a record for finance mobile apps.  It allows users to register and open a bank account in less than three minutes, according to Lito Villanueva, the architect behind DisKartech which targets the mass market and the new RCBC Mobile app that focuses on the mass affluent.

How RCBC became a top digital bank
RCBC chief innovation and inclusion officer Lito Villanueva (From DiskarTech’s Facebook page)

RCBC started its digital transformation on July 1, 2020 in the middle of the crisis.  “When I came in as the chief innovation and inclusive officer in charge of digital transformation of the bank, our digital group focused mainly on the delivery of customer-centric banking products and services—with an awesome user experience. And of course, this includes the creation of innovative, inclusive and interoperable digital solution aligned with the BSP’s task on promoting financial inclusion among the underserved bank segments,” says Villanueva.

“We provide the opportunity for every Filipino to be able to experience banking and to have access to responsible financial services wherever and whoever you are,” Villanueva says in a virtual briefing.  Villanueva, the executive vice president and chief innovation and inclusion officer of RCBC is an award-winning thought leader on digital transformation and inclusive digital finance. He also serves as the chief digital transformation advisor for the Yuchengco Group of Companies, the parent firm of RCBC.

Villanueva confirms that some RCBC branches were closed at the height of the enhanced community quarantine last year.  “Despite the closure of those branches across all banks, we have seen the surge in the digital transactions,” he says.

“Actually, one of the aims of digitalization is how to migrate or how to move branch-based over-the-counter transactions to digital, because that would be cost-effective, transparent and more efficient for both the customer and for RCBC,” says Villanueva.

“You have also seen the dramatic decrease in the number of check deposits being done in branches. You’ve also seen a drop in ATM withdrawals because people are now doing electronic transfers,” says Villanueva.

“We have started since last year how to move at least 50 percent of branch-based over-the-counter transactions to digital. That’s why we have introduced the mobile check deposit.  You can now take a photo of your check regardless of the issuer of the check. And of course, you don’t need to go to the branch to deposit a check.  In a matter of 24 hours, that would be credited to your account,” he says.

“Everything is being done now through the mobile app.  What we are trying to observe is the health protocols because COVID-19 is still a threat to everyone. That’s why RCBC, as a bank, still would want everyone to be safe in their homes or anywhere, and of course, to avoid crowded places. That’s why we are investing heavily on introducing more features to ensure that more and more customers or Filipinos would shift to digital,” he says.

Villanueva says RCBC’s investments in digital technology have grown threefold over time as digital solutions emerged as part of the mainstream business.  “Especially amidst the pandemic, we have seen tremendous benefit of digitalization to any organization across sectors and industries,” he says.

He says digital technology also enables previously unbanked individuals to have access to finance.  “In fact, for DiskarTech, in terms of profile, 70 percent of our customers would be residing outside Metro Manila, and 80 percent would be part of the millennials,” he says.

Villanueva says seven of eight transactions on DiskarTech are coming from the provinces. “So I think, the good thing with our collaboration with AWS is really how to ensure that we can launch any product or service feature in our app with speed and scale,” he says, referring to the bank’s partnership with Amazon Web Services, the world’s most comprehensive and broadly-adopted cloud platform. 

Villanueva says with the help of AWS, RCBC had the most extensive reach with registered customers across 81 provinces through mobile apps RCBC Mobile and DiskarTech.  RCBC was recognized as the best digital bank by Business Tabloid in 2021 and by the Asiamoney and the Alpha Southeast Asia in 2020.

AWS provided RCBC with Cloud-based core banking solutions as well as quick onboarding (EKYC) system.  With the shift to digital, RCBC recorded as much as four-digit growth rate in terms of transaction volume and value, according to Villanueva.

“AWS has really played a very critical role in our journey towards our digital transformation. RCBC selected AWS Cloud after a stringent review of available options in the market. Currently, RCBC runs banking, onboarding or EKYC activities on AWS through industry partners. 

“Through AWS, RCBC was able to successfully launch DiskarTech in a record time. In fact, after just one month to the time we formally launched the product, we generated over a million downloads.  We are the record holder when it comes to having a finance mobile app in terms of having to achieve over a million mobile downloads in the first 30 days from its launch,” he says.

He says DiskarTech posted 127-percent month-on-month growth since its launch and saw a huge jump in terms of deposits and loans.  “We have seen a high of 50 to 65 percent daily increase in terms of loan applications,” he says.

“So normally, our lowest growth when it comes to transaction volume and value would be double-digit, and the highest would be a four-digit growth rate,” he says.

DiskarTech also became the first and only Taglish financial inclusion super app.  “We will also have the Visayan or Cebuano version of DiskarTech, which is again a first of its kind in the Philippines and globally. We are the first local universal bank given approval by the BSP to offer a loan marketplace through DiskarTech super inclusion app,” he says.

“What we intend to do is to make sure that what we are doing is really meant for every Filipino. Aside from being able to push for the first Taglish financial inclusion super app, we have introduced to the market the easy onboarding system for them to create a basic deposit account or a basic savings account that runs on the cloud, and it requires only one valid ID for registration, and its eKYC process is done completely online,” he says.

“So in a matter of less than three minutes, they would be able to have an account and to enjoy 3.25-percent annual interest on their savings without being required any opening deposit amount or maintaining balance,” says Villanueva.

“This is part of our branches’ banking initiative to ensure that every Filipino, even in the far-flung areas, would be able to have access to responsible digital financial services,” he says.

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