A few months shy of its first anniversary on October 20, GoTyme Bank breached the 1 million customer mark, thanks to the digital platform’s consistent focus on human banking—the first in the Philippines with a “phygital” model that seamlessly blends the convenience of digital technology and human-led touchpoints in its operations.
GoTyme also owes its success to the public confidence inspired by the tie-up between trusted local and international brands—the Gokongwei Group and the Tyme Group—that has allowed it to realize strong deposit growth and considerable traction of its phygital banking that offers superior products and services built around its customers’ needs and wishes.
GoTyme redefines “preferred banking” as it democratizes access to the bank’s premium offerings regardless of the customers’ amounts in their accounts—a 5-percent interest rate p.a. for all savings accounts, and no minimum maintaining balance, or regular deposits of specified amounts as required by other financial institutions. It also delivers on its promise to keep banking simple, secure, and sustainable.
From the simplest account-opening procedure—GoTyme maintains kiosks in Gokongwei retail ecosystem, where, assisted by bank ambassadors, customers can open accounts for as modest as PhP50 using just one valid and accepted I.D., upon which they will automatically get their GoTyme Bank Visa debit card—to the most exciting rewards system offered by what is arguably the best debit card today that allows customers and shoppers to earn points anywhere and everywhere, it’s no surprise that GoTyme’s market penetration is simply “getting better and better,” according to Nate Clarke, GoTyme Bank president and CEO.
As with other banks, all deposits of up to PhP500,000 are insured by Philippine Deposit and Insurance Corp.
The importance of being human
Artificial intelligence (AI) technology in banking has certainly improved customer experience— using chatbots from account inquiries to money transfers, loan applications, financial advice, account management, and many more, according to a Forbes 2023 article. It also states that based on a survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit, 77 percent of bankers believe that the ability to unlock the value of AI will spell the difference between the success or failure of banks.
GoTyme has invested heavily on AI and other technologies, making banking secure, seamless, accessible, and affordable to every Filipino, but it has also invested in human banking “to allow us to show greater empathy and give a more personalized or humanized service,” says Clarke. “With our digital banking expertise, we cater to the needs and desires of the customers, giving them a better banking experience, unlocking their financial potential, and, ultimately, improving their lives.”
Today, GoTyme has 345 kiosks all over the country located in Gokongwei malls and retail establishments supported by 884 bank ambassadors (BAs) for client onboarding and debit card printing. Customers can deposit or withdraw through cashiers in 1,377 deposit and withdrawal (DEWI) locations that are open seven days a week.
Clarke says, “More than 60 percent of GoTyme customers are generated by the kiosks supported by bank ambassadors. We have 1:2.6 kiosk-to-BA ratio. This means that every kiosk, on average, has from two to three BAs.”
GoTyme executives have assured the public that no matter how big the bank gets, it will continue to provide clients a better banking experience that would offer fast, convenient, and secure transactions, as well as higher-value products at better prices. As the client base grows, Clarke says they will roll out more products like bills payment, loans, and investments.
“GoTyme exists to unlock the financial potential of Filipinos and we are going to do that by providing a preferred banking experience to everyone (every Juan),” says Albert Tinio, GoTyme Bank co-CEO. “Our biggest challenge is to consistently and genuinely provide the preferred banking experience to the next 10 million [customers]. This is not just a promise, it’s part of our DNA. In a world that has become more digital, the more human we need to be.”
Clarke adds, “If you strip away all the apps and the branches and everything else from banking in general, it’s a trust game, and the Gokongwei name is accelerating customer adoption. Most importantly, I think the reason we’ve had early success is our unique model. We are doing a very human-led digital model of digital banking. And that allows us to deliver a preferred banking experience to everyone.”
He says that the typical preferred banking experience is limited to the top 5 percent of consumers, in particular, those bringing in millions of pesos to the business: “If you’re an average Filipino customer served by a bank, you’re limited to transactional savings. You have no access to affordable credit, investment, or insurance. You’re excluded from these unless you have a certain balance with the bank.”
GoTyme’s take on “preferred banking” is up-front: Customers don’t have to wait for hours and fill out forms to sign up for an account; they get free or reduced fees and high-yield savings, and enjoy a debit card with versatile features; get access to stocks, bonds, and mutual funds; and they don’t have to talk to bots or wait forever on the phone when something goes wrong—rather, they’re are put in the priority queue and speak to a real person right away. GoTyme’s brand of preferred banking does not reduce the customer to a number; it makes them feel cared for and looked after in the best way possible.
Investment opportunities on the horizon
Clarke sums up the GoTyme experience: “We open an account for you and give you a beautiful Visa debit card for free, in under five minutes. We give you three free transfers per week and free deposits and withdrawals in any Gokongwei retail ecosystem. We give you the highest base savings rate in the market at 5 percent. We give you the most rewarding debit card in the market with GoRewards points boosters and points to cash.”
Tinio adds, “And in the future, we will give you access to exciting investment opportunities when you have done a good job sticking to your budget, and access to affordable loans when you are having a tough time.”
Most importantly, there will always be a human ready and waiting to help customers—on the phone or via chat (a real person who responds in under two minutes) or someone at a Gokongwei retail store.
The bank’s steady growth has set it on the course of expansion; it is looking at the soft launch of its first lending product in September ahead of its first investment product in the fourth quarter. Clarke says the loan product will be offered to merchants through a partnership. “The merchant or a small business lending product will be the first one [to be offered],” he says. “On the investment side, I would say we’re hoping for early fourth quarter, so October. And that will be available to everyone.”
GoTyme has also raised its deployed kiosk target for the year to 450 from 400 previously. Tinio says, “We’ve been deploying them all over the Philippines, [in], Luzon, Visayas, [and] Mindanao… At the end of the year, it’s still going to go higher—400 was our original forecast,” adding that GoTyme has already begun deploying kiosks outside of Robinsons retail stores and malls, but is focusing more on deploying kiosks inside them.
“We started now deploying kiosks outside of the Robinsons retail ecosystem and going now to the wider Gokongwei group employees,” Tinio says, citing Cebu Pacific, and Universal Robina Corp.
According to Tinio, GoTyme will also be launching its bills payment function soon, following the rollout of its capability to scan Quick-Response (QR) codes.