How UnionBank translates DSAI to provide personalized services and solutions to clients


Data science and artificial intelligence (or “DSAI”) are two “tandem”-technologies that are now taking over many industries across the globe. Artificial intelligence has brought about many exciting prospects that have ushered more personalized, “tailor-fit” digital experiences for many of us. This has made many of the things we do in our lives simpler, more instantaneous and, thus, more convenient. 

As Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) is now in the next phase of its digital transformation journey, the country’s leading digital bank has continued to invest in talent, infrastructure, and other resources needed to innovate and co-create using data science and AI, which is led by global data science expert Dr. David Hardoon Ph. D., as the Bank's Senior Advisor for Data and Artificial Intelligence.

Art of Artificial Intelligence

On the sixth installment of UnionBank’s exclusive “eTalk Tales” with Media, Dr. Hardoon discussed how UnionBank is translating data science and artificial intelligence insights into a very individualized way of banking, making sure that everyone is statistically significant and provided the ‘VIP’ treatment with a wide range of personalized services and solutions. 

“DSAI is a key element within UnionBank’s digitize or perish journey. It is the differentiator between just “Digitize to survive” versus “Digitize to flourish,” Hardoon said.

Hardoon emphasized that AI is a must-have to enable a scalable customer-centric finance of tomorrow, today. The goal is to make finance relevant, specific, and contextual to each individual consumer. His use of AI is not artificial intelligence but ‘augmented intelligence’. Reality is that humans are phenomenal in creativity that machines do not have. Machines may be able to replicate but it cannot originate. This, according to Hardoon, is where augmentation comes in. Data science uses the insights from machines to operationalize and contextualize. “It’s not a question of ‘can we do it’ but ‘should we do it’.”

“AI is the engine of the digital renaissance. It is a vehicle to achieve an aspiration. It is important to anchor AI on what truly matters—people, whether customers or employees. AI is truly about being human centric first. The purpose is us, primarily as customers, and how do we leverage on the insight and knowledge that can be derived from AI to help shape financial services around us.”


Digital transformation is heralded as the game changer for the banking sector in today's reality and for tomorrow's necessity. The transformation is rooted on the aspiration of inclusive and resilient financial services, and is about achieving a reality where ones’ moments of life are not defined around the financial products available, but where financial services and products are created to support the milestones in life. 

“The Bank has been introducing and enhancing countless digital touchpoints for customer ease and fluidity of engagement. These touchpoints mean exactly that, that customers engage with the Bank on a more regular basis. It is our responsibility to...imagine. Imagine the ability to provide bridging, or intra-day loans without a customer's need to submit hefty financial historical statements,” Hardoon said. 


UnionBank uses AI to upgrade its existing strategy and accelerate further innovation, an example of which is its use as an additional layer of defense against financial crimes. AI enables the Bank to detect more instances while making sure that the existing defense and process will not be disrupted to ensure operation efficiency. AI is also being leveraged by the Bank to predict future volume of inbound calls that can reduce some of the volatility in call management. Through AI, the cash management solutions team are provided with data-driven relevant recommendations and proposals for customers.

Data Science and AI (DSAI) enables capabilities in understanding customers' needs through their various engagements with the bank and providers and the ability to go beyond a templatized approach to ascertain relevance, suitability, and affordability. This makes UnionBank, Philippine banking’s best in the data science and AI field.

Consistent with its commitment to make banking simpler and more inclusive via best-in-class digital and mobile capabilities, UnionBank President and CEO Edwin Bautista believes that leveraging Data and AI is a key driver to the next-level of its digital transformation as the Bank continues to put the customer—both individuals and corporates, at the heart of its business.