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In early July 2018, 16 leading executives in the Philippine banking, finance and insurance sector gathered in Manila to take part in EY’s ongoing series of business roundtable events in the region. These events aimed to discuss the challenges and opportunities that technology and innovation are bringing to the industry.

Much of the discussion focused around the customer experience, and how the types of technology used should be focused on enhancing the customer experience to create better overall interaction with financial institutions. These include some examples of new innovations already in play in the Philippines, and how they are driving greater customer engagement.

The discussion also turned to FinTech and how traditional financial institutions could best leverage off collaboration with these new players to augment their existing services.

Customer Experience Drives Innovation

Participants at the roundtable session noted that customer experience is at the heart of what drives the adoption of technology. And regardless of the technology used to power the innovation, the main focus was to create the best possible customer experience because, in the end, that was what the customer cared about.

Technology and Implementing Change

There are infrastructure barriers to the rollout and adoption of technology in the Philippines, yet changes are coming and the sentiment at the EY roundtable event was that there were tremendous opportunities in the country.

It is key that a company’s strategic direction is aligned with the transformation program roadmap and is in agreement across affected business units. Strong governance, careful management of resources, effective communication channels, and defined success measures will ensure a successful implementation.

FinTech and the Regulatory Environment

There are many thriving FinTech start-ups in the Philippines, but, as with elsewhere across Asia, the question of how and where to collaborate is one traditional financial institutions have been wrestling with. In many ways, it is a symbiotic relationship, as both FinTechs and financial institutions need each other in different ways.

Brian Thung, EY ASEAN Financial Services Leader, highlighted, “There is a historical view that regulatory challenges are a barrier to further digital adoption and development of interoperable e-payment platforms across the ASEAN region.

However, in our interactions with the regulators in the Philippines, we note that they generally maintain a supportive stance towards progression and are working hard to address legacy rules and regulations that might serve as stumbling blocks to this headway.”

Conclusion

While it was agreed there are hurdles to overcome across the banking, finance, and insurance sectors in the Philippines, the general sense from the discussion was that with a dynamic and very young population driving growth well into the future, the opportunities were boundless.

Vicky B. Lee Salas, EY Financial Services Country Leader for the Philippines, pointed to the recent issuance of regulations around FinTech, mobile banking and cloud computing as evidence progress was being made. “Also, the governor of the central bank is driving the digital payment system in the Philippines, the national retail payment system (NRPS). The vision of the NRPS is to create a safe, efficient, and reliable electronic retail payment system that is interconnected and interoperable. The NRPS will be a game changer for the Philippines and it will help drive innovation within the payment industry,” she said.