2020 Winner: Blockchain pilots win Remittance & ATM categories – Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards


Union Bank of the Philippines won in the Remittance category and for Best ATM & Self-service Innovation, with two separate projects that both utilised nascent blockchain technology.

In regard to the former ATM category, its internally-developed Project Bitbox Proof-of-Concept (PoC) ushered in a virtual currency (VC) ATM cyptocurrency machine at the first fully digital Ark branch in the Philippines. Customers can purchase bitcoins (BTC) using local cash and sell them via partnerships with central-bank registered exchanges.

Project Bitbox has increased awareness and the understanding of cyptocurrencies and allowed the bank to gauge demand or otherwise for it, while future-proofing Union Bank for any possible adoption in the future. Its attracted curious customers to open new accounts at the branch in order to access the VC ATM and had other benefits, such as:

  • Deepening the relationship with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the central bank of the Philippines;
  • Garnered lots of positive publicity for the bank & a rise in fintech partnership requests;
  • Showed how to book and reconcile digital assets on the general ledger.
  • Improved internal understanding of how to incorporate risk, workflow and network linkage procedures when using virtual currencies.

The Best Remittances Initiative win for the Union Bank of the Philippines came about thanks to its Send-i2i pilot scheme that uses blockchain technology to move small amounts of money from migrants in Singapore back home to the Philippines.

Send-i2i is a pilot launched by UnionBank to explore how to compete with non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) in the large Philippines remittance market that is worth 10% of gross domestic product (GDP), equivalent to US$33bn of inflows per year.

It operates from Singapore to any bank, rural or otherwise in the country, and uses blockchain technology and tokenized fiat to deliver a near real-time cross-border remittance in a faster, cheaper fashion than normal.

Developed in conjunction with Adhara Ltd and on-boarded to Singapore’s PayNow network to enhance accessibility, the portal cut delivery times from 20 days to mere seconds in the case of receiving rural bank and project partner, Cantilan Bank, and slashed costs.

OCBC Bank was also included in the pilot as one of nine bank members of the PayNow funds transfer network that has 2.8 million users in Singapore. An SMS success text notification is provided to the sender and beneficiary of the remittance. Union Bank’s PHX stablecoin is deployed, pegged to the local currency, to ensure efficiency in foreign exchange (FX) conversion and transfers.

The aim is to increase financial inclusion, engagement and business opportunities, extending financial services (FS) to the under-banked segments of the 100 million-strong Filipino population, which is a very significant market.  The Send-i2i pilot was publicly unveiled at the 2019 Singapore Fintech Festival after earlier successful tests.

Union Bank of the Philippines were also winners in the Best Retail Bank Philippines. Category against their local rivals. This win was for a digital Relationship Manager (RM) project that introduced a customer relationship marketing (CRM) platform that led to a doubling of qualified leads for RMs, using the in-built data analytics to better present opportunities, and ultimately 500% more conversions. The average number of new accounts opened by RMs increased by 50% thanks to the assistance of their new CRM tool and the number of calls needed to convert a prospect fell by a similar amount.

Union Bank of the Philippines were also winners in the Best Social Media Marketing Campaign at the Retail Banker International (RBI): Asia Trailblazer Awards 2020.


The Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards is an annual platform that celebrates the best in class retail banking institutions and individuals for their innovative service offering and commitment to customer excellence.

If you would like to share your incredible consumer finance journey, then register for the 13th Annual Retail Banker International Asia Trailblazer Awards 2022 and submit your entry!