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UnionBank implements artificial intelligence safeguards as part of digital transformation

Komfie Manalo



Aboitiz-led lender Union Bank of the Philippines is integrating artificial intelligence into its digital journey to provide a more enhanced customer experience.

Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank)’s digital transformation strategy has enabled the bank to provide banking services to its customers while ensuring the health and welfare of its people during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Going forward, the bank believes that data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) will be critical technologies that will further drive its digitization.

The bank is, after all, committed to customer-centric digital transformation. First in class services and products will be provided through two-pronged maximization of (1) customer-centric digital and mobile capabilities, and (2) AI-driven applications.

“As we continue to put our customers – both retail and corporates – at the heart of our business, we will be leveraging data and artificial intelligence in the next phase of our digital journey,” said UnionBank president and CEO Edwin Bautista. “But while we are cognizant of how AI can be a game-changer in customer experience, we will make sure that necessary measures are in place for its responsible use.”

While UnionBank remains unwavering in pursuing safe and trusted innovation, it acknowledges that AI may result in unintended consequences. As a safeguard, the bank has established and will implement a framework that encompasses a set of statistical measures to evaluate “fairness” in the context of financial services.

The bank has now commenced the implementation of these AI safeguards in line with its fraud management. It will explore the public sharing of the developed fairness metrics in its endeavors to support the wider industry transformation and adoption of safe and governed AI.

“Data and Artificial Intelligence will equip us with unique avenues to better understand our customers’ needs,” said Dr. David R. Hardoon, UnionBank’s newly appointed Senior Advisor for Data and Artificial Intelligence. “We are pursuing these new possibilities through the development of trusted AI solutions.”

UnionBank’s  AI and Data Policy unit is a newly created division, dedicated to lead the development of ethical and business standards for artificial intelligence to ensure proper data governance, respect for human rights, fairness in AI systems, and human control over AI systems.

Its core mandate is to ensure that the principals of the fairness framework in the use of AI and data are embedded in all digital products and services.

UnionBank’s internal acceleration of its AI strategy allows the bank to utilize new insights and expertise towards developing industry-wide AI capabilities.

To jointly explore and understand the myriad complexities in the ethical considerations for using AI in the financial services industry, the bank has partnered with Canada-based AI solutions firm Element AI.

“UnionBank’s commitment to customer-centric, safe and trustworthy AI, resonates deeply with our own values as AI practitioners,” said Nicolas Chapados, Chief Science Officer (CSO) and co-founder of Element AI. “The opportunity to partner with and guide UnionBank at this critical juncture as they balance technical innovation, industry leadership, and customer experience, is a great privilege to Element AI.”

UnionBank is also a founding member of the Veritas Consortium – initiated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore – with the objective of creating a framework for responsible use and adoption of AI and for promoting proper governance to foster trust and confidence in financial services.