AUTHORITIES from the government and the private sector are one in citing the importance of upskilling people’s technological expertise to make Filipino firms become globally competitive in the present times.
During the virtual groundbreaking ceremony for the Union Bank of the Philippines (Unionbank) innovation campus on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, Unionbank chief information officer Dennis Omila said the country has what it takes to be an artificial intelligence (AI) hub.
Omila said a lot of major software developments are being sourced from the Philippines, which can be attributed to Filipinos’ creativity, ingenuity, and high information technology (IT) skills.
He said around 100 people have undergone training on data science under the Unionbank program and more are being enlisted.
“Let’s not miss the opportunity. I think this is really a good opportunity for the Philippines to shine when it comes to artificial intelligence and machine learning,” he said.
In the event, Unionbank president and chief executive officer (CEO) Edwin Bautista said the bank’s innovation campus will serve as a venue where their employees, among others, can undergo training to help themselves, the bank, and the country compete globally.
Bautista said its digital transformation started five years ago and a lot has changed since then.
He said the campus, located in a one-hectare property in San Antonio, San Pedro, Laguna, will serve as a venue where the bank can “share to everyone what we have learned.”
“So that Filipino companies can be globally competitive in this new digital age as we continue with our efforts to Tech-Up Pilipinas and pioneer innovation for a better world,” he said, referring to the company’s goal to use technological innovations to increase efficiency, lower cost, and improve customer experience.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said the groundbreaking of the innovation campus is timely given the need to further enhance Filipinos’ talent and skills “to build back better and rise from the adversity” and remarkable “because of the challenges brought upon by the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.”
Diokno said the country has moved forward amid the pandemic “because we choose to innovate and embrace digitalization.”
He said the BSP’s Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap (DPTR) has several pillars namely the digital payments streams, the digital finance infrastructures, and the digital governance and standards.
“We invite the Unionbank Innovation Campus to work on these critical areas and help the country achieve further digital transformation. With your support, I am certain that we will be able to further reform, innovate, and transform our payments ecosystem into one that is safe, efficient, and reliable,” he added.
In a recorded video message for the event, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the experience during the pandemic highlighted the need for the economy “to quickly adjust to the trajectory of modern digital technologies if it is to remain viable.”
“Nowhere is the impact of digital technology more pronounced than in the field of finance. The restrictions on movement and physical interaction during this pandemic put our entire banking system on a forced march towards rapidly innovating on its processes, products, and customer experience,” he said.
Dominguez said there was an immediate need to provide services through digital means and to improve on internal processes to meet new standards of efficiency.
“Those that cannot swim in the digital tide will drown in its wake,” he said.
He said Unionbank’s innovation campus will help towards cultivating new talents and aid in the development of new products and ways to help the economy become more competitive.
“It is a landmark for the Philippines’ relentless push towards comprehensive digitization,” Dominguez said, as he urged the bank “to continuously strengthen the cybersecurity safeguards of its digital systems to protect them from potential threats and risks.” (PNA)