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Saturday, March 6, 2021

UnionBank's Mass Retail Banking Hub for MSMEs

UnionBank recently created the country's first mass retail banking hub that aims to support MSMEs, as part of the bank's mission of enabling inclusive prosperity amid the current global health crisis.

The hub will provide a one-stop center resources that MSMEs might need in order to support their businesses regardless of size- such as financing, logistics, and a buyer-seller network, to name a few.

"I think the definition for SMEs is much more defined where we're really looking at micro, small, and medium enterprises. So these are your businesses with, for micro, 3 million in capital, and then you have 15 million for small, and for medium, it's about a hundred million in capital," said Manuel Santiago, President and CEO of UnionBank.

According to Santiago, UnionBank estimates this market at about 50 million customers, with the majority of them bringing in the lower income segments. In addition, about 60 percent of this customer market classify themselves as self-employed entrepreneurs. "It's a large market and we think this is a segment that needs attention at this time, and we're putting our efforts into that."

A lot of entrepreneurs today are very careful in making decisions as a result of the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic.

"We've seen that in the way they apply for loans. You would think that because you have loans available that people are going to flock and apply," Santiago explained. "In fact, even those existing loans that we have that have reached the renewal stage, MSMEs would even say- 'you can renew that at half the amount only, and I will just come back to you when things are better.' It is a good thing because it shows a sign of maturity, and you know, in this time, you can't be very aggressive. You really need to think about your next steps to be able to survive this crisis."

With its vision of empowering SMEs through digital initiatives, UnionBank has already laid a lot of ground work even before the pandemic to address SME challenges. The bank has also created the SME Business Banking app, an online platform that enables SMEs to manage their financial transactions by facilitating all business payments with the most extensive list of government and utility billers, transferring funds to both local and international banks, customizing complex business approval flows, enrolling all companies and subsidiaries in a single log-in setup, and opening and managing payroll accounts for their employees, among others.


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