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The Ark of digital banking by UnionBank

Let’s admit it, going to the bank is probably one of the most boring parts of your day. You go inside, get a number and sit, or if there’s no numbering system you just fall in line–and wait–and wait.

I used to have a job which required me to go to at least three banks everyday and it was certainly no fun and if you get bored and whip up your cellphone the guards would even approach you and tell you that texting isn’t allowed inside the bank (that was then).

So imagine my surprise when I entered the ARK by UnionBank, located at the ground floor of the Insular Building in Paseo de Roxas. There were no lines, because there were no tellers! And in place of those benches are couches, coffee tables and long sofas–it was like entering the lobby of a hotel!

The only difference is there’s even free coffee at the ARK!

Welcome to  The ARK by UnionBank, where banking as we know it embarks on a voyage into the future: one that does away with lines and enters the world of touch screen, augmented reality, and digital interaction.

Yes augmented reality, there are VR glasses you can use inside The Ark.

The ARK by UnionBank is the first fully digital bank branch in the Philippines.

“From the brick-and-mortar branch in Banking 1.0 to today’s online banking of Banking 2.0, The ARK is where UnionBank will experiment with Banking 3.0 as we move from transactional spaces to interactional spaces. There’s no map to our destination, but our sails are out and the winds are steering us in the right direction.” said UnionBank President Edwin R. Bautista

Using digital technology to augment an actual banking experience, The ARK by UnionBank delivers on its promise of a new digital platform experience in banking.

“The ARK was established by UnionBank to address the common pain points in banking. Falling in line, getting a number before being attended to, spending a lot of time in the bank which could have been used in, otherwise, more productive endeavors. It is also meant to satisfy the diverse and changing needs of our customers,” Bautista added.


At The ARK, a client is treated like a guest, welcomed by the bank ambassador who hands him a tablet to select his transaction.  The bank ambassador may usher the guest to the coffee area where he could enjoy his espresso while waiting for the bank ambassador to facilitate his transaction. The guest will also be able to maximize his time while at The ARK and do some work as the branch is equipped with high-speed internet.  Customized and comfortable seats are provided for The ARK guests.

Bautista explained that The Ark provides an interactional experience rather than a transactional space.  It could also be used as a 3rd space for different communities to get together.

The ARK, as a concept branch/ “lab,”also serves as a platform for the clients to co-create an ideal banking experience by closely looking into what the clients’ needs and wants when it comes to banking.

Digital natives would find The ARK as the perfect bank branch that fits their lifestyle.
For non-digital natives, however, The ARK serves as their bridge that comfortably leads them from traditional to digital banking.

“The ARK provides a service unlike any other.  There are no lines, no numbers, hardly any forms to fill up, just highly-trained bank ambassadors ready and happy to give personalized service to each and every client. Every client here receives the proverbial VIP service,” Bautista adds.

UnionBank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Justo A. Ortiz said that it should not come as a surprise for UnionBank to come up with The ARK, which is seen as the bank of the future.

“UnionBank trailblazed digital banking in the Philippines and we continue with our efforts to use technology and enhancing digital banking capabilities in order to provide the best customer experience for our clients,” Ortiz said.

UnionBank has recently been awarded as the Best Digital Bank at the Asiamoney Banking Awards 2017, held at The Ritz-Carlton in Beijing, China, last September 26, validating its position as the best digital bank in the country.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier graced the launch of The ARK and hailed UnionBank for its future-ready innovations which are at par with international banking standards. ark by unionbank

Fonacier said that BSP believes in financial technology as both an opportunity and a challenge to the banking sector.

BSP records show that 25% of current bank clients use mobile banking technologies in their transactions and this number is predicted to grow exponentially over the years.

“Our banks need to be equipped with sound digital strategies for them to cope up with these digital innovations to better serve their clients. BSP will also be aggressively pursuing reforms to support our banks through an enabling regulatory environment,” Fonacier adds.

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