SINGAPORE – 29 October 2019 – Digital banking leader Union Bank of the Philippines’ (UnionBank) Project i2i — a blockchain-based platform linking rural banks once disconnected from the country’s financial network — is making remarkable progress since the bank launched i2i in April this year.
Its network already consists of 35 rural banks with 150 branches and 250,000 accounts nationwide, covering all major cities in the 7,107-island archipelago. Furthermore, 70 more rural banks are in the pipeline to join the network soon.
In August alone, transaction volume on i2i was at over USD 1 million with 335 transactions performed that month. With the network’s exponential growth marked by more banks signing on and new services being added to i2i, these numbers are expected to rise further.
The Philippines’ 500 rural banks play a critical role in the countryside which commercial banks have limited presence in. They service farmers, fisherfolk, and local businesses bringing progress to communities. However, due cost and other barriers, rural banks are excluded from national automated clearing houses (ACHs) and international payment networks such as SWIFT.
i2i closes this gap as rural banks can affordably leverage its network to connect to local ACHs, commercial banks and other rural banks, to perform real-time transactions powered by blockchain technology and UnionBank’s very own PHX stablecoin added to the platform in July.
The impact of this on financial inclusion is tremendous in the country of about 108 million Filipinos, 70 million of whom are unbanked.
UnionBank also recently piloted near real-time cross-border transfers using tokenized fiat from OCBC Bank in Singapore to an i2i rural bank. A game-changing service for families of millions of overseas Filipino workers as it reduces the cost of sending money back home and increases access to bank-grade remittances.
“The world is moving forward and we’re already seeing solutions that make the whole ecosystem more efficient,” said President and CEO Edwin Bautista on UnionBank’s blockchain enterprise solutions.
Clearly, Project i2i is enabling rural banks across the Philippines to become a catalyst for nationwide inclusive prosperity. Since its digital transformation in 2016, UnionBank has sought to promote financial inclusion for all Filipinos, a commitment anchored on the bank’s purpose of elevating lives, fulfilling dreams and enabling communities through smart banking.