The Ark was awarded the prestigious ‘Best Customer Experience in a Retail Branch’ at the Customer Experiences in Financial Services Summit 2018 in Singapore for its outstanding customer focused innovation. 

The Ark by UnionBank, Awarded best Branch Customer Experience at the Customer Experience in Financial Services Summit and Awards 2018

Imagine you’re in the Philippines visiting a bank, and actually enjoying it! No queues, no paperwork, and a good cup of fresh coffee. Seems unlikely? 

Not if you’re visiting The Ark by UnionBank in Manila – the Philippines’ first fully digital branch banking experience, conceptualized by the Bonsey Design teams in Singapore and Manila. 

The modular, multipurpose arena at the Ark with multiple digital touchpoints

As a key driver of UnionBank’s ambitious digital transformation objective, this 400 sq.m branch on Ayala Avenue, Makati is a futuristic customer experience lab that fosters innovation and growth for the bank. The Ark features entirely paperless transactions and includes a test bed for augmented and virtual reality applications – the future of retail banking in the Philippines and the region.

Retail banking has experienced a dramatic shift in the last five years. The Ark symbolizes UnionBank’s vision of staying ahead by redefining the customer experience in a market and sector traditionally hampered by logistical and technological constraints. The challenge for Bonsey Design was to make digital banking in the branch work for customers who are traditional in their habits and still look for bank staff to help them get through their day-to-day work. 

Customer using the large interactive screens to browse sales products along with an Ambassador

That digital transformation is imperative, but not at the cost of customer’s comfort, is a sentiment echoed by the President and CEO of the bank, Edwin R. Bautista in his mantra – “ No one left behind.”

When you walk into The Ark, rather than just waiting or wandering from desk to desk, you are greeted by a smart and friendly bank Ambassador capable of assisting you with all of your banking needs and helping you to navigate the array of next-generation tools and product information

The Ark Ambassador is a highly trained banker who makes banking easy for customers, whether it is sales or transactions

The ambassador hands you your own iPad, and from the comfortable lounge chairs or cafe-style seating you can explore the world of digital banking at your own pace. When you feel ready to pick a product or make a transaction, you are not left at the mercy of technology. The system is smart enough to know precisely when you need an Ambassador and they will approach you to help you with further information and fulfillment. This seamless integration of human and digital interaction in an experiential space is at the heart of The Ark’s customer experience. 

All of this is made possible by the meticulously designed interactive platform custom-built for UnionBank by a combination of teams from Bonsey Design and MDI. MDI is a Philippines based enterprise infrastructure and digital transformation technology specialist known for its groundbreaking work with leading brands like Globe telecom. From fluent user interface design, to informative and retail friendly content and seamless back-end process, each layer is thoughtfully crafted to make banking as effortless as possible. 

The iconic 24/7 self-service zone of the Ark is a beacon of orange that helps customers spot it easily from a distance

The success of this transformation can be seen in both numbers and industry recognition. Since its launch, the Ark has processed six times more account openings than any other branch, with more customers preferring to using self-service machines and less reliant on over-the-counter transactions, making the branch even more efficient at dealing with peak hours and payday crowds.

But what the Ark offers goes beyond day-to-day banking. It is a space of opportunity where people come to realise their aspirations. A customer can go to The Ark and take a virtual reality test drive of the car of their dreams before applying for an auto loan, or use augmented reality to explore the home they would like to get a loan for. 

Customer using the Augmented reality interaction to customize and view the car he is looking to buy with a UnionBank Auto loan

Wouldn’t it be nice to go to a bank, not because you have to update your passbook or make a deposit, but to attend a TED-style talk on investment, interact with a fintech startup about blockchain or simply to listen to some great live music? The Ark, with its open plan and modularity, allows the bank to take its relationship with the customers beyond banking. With frequent enriching events and exciting activities, it is not surprising to see crowds gather here after banking hours, hosted by celebrities and enjoying great food and drinks. Since its launch the Ark has hosted over seventy events, making the branch immensely popular.