RCBC’s pioneering phygital banking steals the spotlight at PH DigiCon 2023


The digital transformation journey of the Philippines’ fastest-growing bank Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) took center stage at the Philippine Digital Convention 2023 themed “Vision,” held last October 13 at the Marriott Grand Ballroom, Newport World Resorts in Pasay City.

RCBC Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer, Lito Villanueva.

RCBC Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer Lito Villanueva was invited to share the bank’s journey into becoming a leading digital challenger bank through the country’s first physical-digital or phygital solution – RCBC Moneybela Barangayan Banking. In his keynote speech entitled “Adapt. Innovate. Thrive: Fueling Banking through Digital Transformation,” Villanueva shared RCBC’s best practices and hard-earned successes to Filipino and international innovators, highlighting the bank’s alignment with the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). The BSP document is a blueprint for the country’s digital journey containing the overarching goal of the country to onboard 70% of adult Filipinos into the formal banking system and digitize 50% of retail payments by the end of the year. 

RCBC successfully pivoted towards digital which did not only increase the bank’s competitiveness and standing but also attracted huge investments from entities such as Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and global attention through international accolades. Among its global and national recognitions include a four-peat award as the Philippines’ Best Bank for Digital by Asiamoney, the Eye on Innovation Award by Gartner, YouTube Challenger Award for its viral and out-of-the-box digital ad campaigns generating combined views of over 17 million, Grand Champion for Digital Payments and Financial Inclusion by the Bankers Institute of the Philippines, and Rank 1 in the Philippine Best Customer Service 2023 survey by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and global research firm Statista.

Despite the surge in the number of bank accounts opened in the recent year, Villanueva emphasized the disparity between those who live in urban and rural areas in terms of aptitude, openness, and access to digital banking solutions. The RCBC executive said that the differences in financial literacy and bank access between cities and provinces prompted the bank to invest heavily into the unbanked and underserved sectors, underscoring the overall goal of the government to financially include the majority of Filipinos.

Under RCBC Moneybela Barangayan Banking are RCBC’s digital solutions which include the world’s first mass financial inclusion application in Taglish and Cebuano – RCBC Diskartech; the largest and most extensive bank-agnostic ATM service in the Philippines – RCBC ATM Go; and the mass-affluent digital solution and the first digital concierge in the country –  RCBC Pulz.

Since its launch, RCBC Moneybela accelerated bank onboarding in rural areas by 210%, establishing its presence in 13,116 barangays or a third of the country’s total number of barangays. The efforts to bring empowering digital financial services and literacy to rural areas has strengthened RCBC’s position as a bank, leapfrogging from 8th position in 2018 to 5th position in 2022 in the country’s list of largest privately-owned banks in terms of assets.

Villanueva emphasized the importance of anchoring every digital innovation into the social realities that Filipinos face everyday, a philosophical mantra that RCBC continues to embody through its ‘Innovations with Empathy’. He added that despite the huge changes brought by the digital ages, innovators such as RCBC must continue being rooted on the relevance of banking solutions to people’s lives.

“Digital is always evolving, and we should be too. Evolving not only in the services we offer, but evolving in the way we see the world. We should not be so used to how we create, conceptualize, and operate on a daily basis, that we lose sight of what truly matters in this digital age,” Villanueva said.

“The secret ingredient is found in three key words: Adapt. Innovate. Thrive. One is not possible without the other. In order to innovate, we must adapt. In order to adapt, we also must innovate. And to thrive, we must do both. Everyone and everything is connected. We are fueling banking innovations, which in turn, also fuels digital transformation,” Villanueva added.

Villanueva also joined a panel discussion for the Data Center Track of the event, focused on the theme of “Building Ahead of Demand: Unleashing the Potential of Data Centers for Sustainable Economic Growth and Innovation.” The track highlighted the Philippines’ emerging role as a significant hyperscaler hub in the Asia Pacific region, where the demand for data centers is growing rapidly. The sessions delved into critical topics, including the key trends shaping the growth of the Philippine data center market, the economic opportunities that accompany increased investments in data centers, and real-world examples of how enterprises have expanded their operations through colocation and digital transformation. Joining Villanueva were PLDT’s Chief Data Center Officer Gary Ignacio, Jones Lang Lasalle’s Senior Director and Head of Data Center Min Thura Aung, Meralco’s Vice President and Head of Enterprise and National Government Ma. Cecilia Domingo, Nokia’s Head of Data Center Fabric Business Development Asia Pacific Byung Ki Lee, Cisco’s Cloud Sales Specialist for Data Center and Compute Business Tarandeep Bagga, and Huawei’s Vice President for Service and Delivery Department Steven Yao.

PH DigiCon is one of the most prestigious digital thought leadership events of the year, gathering global industry mavens, thought leaders, and digital visionaries to discuss developments in technologies and emergence of innovations in the global arena. The event focuses on helping small and medium enterprises to grow their digital businesses in partnership with Go Negosyo’s 3M on wheels and includes a start-up innovation challenge by PLDT & Smart. It also features insightful Tech Leadership Forums that offer deep dives into key technology trends and industry advancements, particularly on data center, cloud, AI, and smart cities. These tracks are led by ePLDT and PLDT Enterprise, PLDT Group’s ICT subsidiary and corporate business arm, respectively.

See full post here.