The most recent figures out of a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) study show that the rate of bank account ownership soared to 56 percent in 2021 from a mere 29 percent in 2019, which means the number of underserved Filipinos dropped to 34.3 million (representing 44 percent of the total population aged 15 and older) in 2021, from 51.2 million in 2019—an impressive reduction of 16.9 million.
No doubt many Filipinos switched to this digital financial lifestyle spurred by the pandemic’s online-first approach. With more people compelled to use electronic money for digital payments and cashless transactions, the pandemic certainly prompted a digital transformation in the Philippines. If the BSP can sustain this momentum, it stands a chance of realizing its goal to unlock the financial potential of 70 percent of Filipinos by 2023.
As well, the Philippines’ banking revenue pools may triple by 2030, but the question persists: Why is the country’s banking penetration rate low compared with its peers and emerging-markets standards? Rural areas, particularly, are underserved, as those residents are less likely to have access to physical banks. What would it take for the hesitant to take the plunge and join the digital revolution?
Analysts have cited the lack of financial literacy, trust in financial institutions, funds, accessibility, documentary requirements, and high maintenance and transaction costs as the chief reasons for the gap, which GoTyme Bank seeks to plug through its growing presence in the Philippine digital banking landscape.
GoTyme Bank, a joint venture of the Gokongwei group of companies and Tyme Group, adopted a business model that took into account some of the peculiar banking problems plaguing Filipinos. For example, financial services are hampered by antiquated legislation that excludes potential customers from opening bank accounts, a shortage of cash points to enable account funding and transactions, and underdeveloped public infrastructure, particularly in the rural areas, resulting in poor connectivity. These have knock-on effects on banking fees on the back of security and logistical challenges, the high credit risk driven by unavailability of data and/or underdeveloped credit bureaus, and the markets being dominated by incumbents who are not motivated to offer competitive pricing. Finally, there’s the all-important emotional access stemming from a general distrust of the banking sector, and a relatively lower financial and digital literacy, which make it more difficult to drive adoption.
The appeal of the human banking
GoTyme Bank’s “phygital” business model, which combines physical and human banking with a well-established digital system, puts a premium on access in all aspects of its operations. It has deployed a high-tech, high-touch retail-integrated distribution model powered by GoTyme’s smart mobile apps. Physical onboarding kiosks staffed by bank ambassadors (BAs) enable five-minute account opening and real-time physical card issuing, while cash deposits and withdrawals are widely available through store cashiers.
By ensuring that a helpful human always at the end of the line, GoTyme Bank is committed to constantly improve on its customer service, such that quick, efficient, and helpful responses become a habit among its BAs and personal bankers.
Edenelle Marasigan, a single mother, has been a BA at the Robinsons Supermarket in Robinsons Place Pavia, Iloilo, since May this year. Before she joined this team, the Pavia kiosk averaged 33 new customer sign-ups per day, which jumped to more than 50 when she got on board. She says, “Every time may napapasaya akong customer dahil na-introduce ko ang GoTyme sa kanila, masaya ang pakiramdam ko. Lalo na kung ordinaryong tao ang nahikayat ko… alam kong makakatulong sa kanila ang GoTyme para maabot nila ang kanilang financial goals [It makes me happy every time I introduce GoTyme to customers. Especially when these are ordinary folks…whom I know GoTyme will be able to help achieve their financial goals].”
Roselle Calma is a BA at Robinsons Supermarket in Robinsons Galleria South, San Pedro, Laguna, married, with four children. She says, “Namatay ang mother ko last year kaya malapit ako sa mga senior, lalo na mga babae. Habang nagbabayad sila ng grocery items nila sa supermarket, kinukunan ko sila ng pushcart. Tapos iniimbita ko sila sa kiosk para kwentuhan tungkol sa GoTyme [My mother died last year, so I have found myself drawn to older adults, especially women. While they’re paying for their grocery items, I usually help get them a pushcart, after which I escort them to the GoTyme kiosk and talk to them about GoTyme].”
Calma pulls out a chair if she’s assisting a potential client who’s an older adult, and assists the latter in the onboarding process. She also shows them how to navigate the GoTyme app as part of the overall acquisition process. “Nahihikayat ko ang mga potential customers pag pinapakita ko na meron akong Go Save account na may 5% interest rate per annum. Pati yung 3x a week na free transfer from GoTyme to other banks… napapa-open ko sila ng account [I can convince potential customers when I show them my own Go Save account, which earns 5% interest rate per annum… as well as the 3x a week free transfer from GoTyme to other banks],” she says.
On the surface, digital excellence and human interaction often appear as two opposing forces. But in today’s reality they are two sides of the same coin, both playing a crucial role in enhancing customer experiences. Balancing these two elements can significantly improve the service quality offered by financial institutions and drive success at a time when consumers have been made less sure of their financial wellness on the heels of the pandemic. The phygital model can help foster more meaningful relationships with customers, thereby boosting customer loyalty, satisfaction, and ultimately, the bottom line.
Trust is a lifetime thing
GoTyme has taken the mystique off preferred banking by offering affordable banking services driven by its tech platform and operating model. In so doing, it also creates emotional access among its customers, with simple, easy-to-understand products and transparent pricing structure. Its human BAs and physical touch points educate and bring visibility to customers—a critical element in Filipino social interactions. GoTyme’s affiliation with trusted retail partners and well-established brands builds trust—that all-important keystone of digital transformation.
Human interaction offers a sense of reassurance, trust, and empathy that is difficult to replicate digitally. Eelan Reyes, GoTyme Bank chief sales officer, says, “Building relationships is crucial for customer acquisition as it transcends the transaction. Human interaction will always be part of improving people's daily lives.”
Customer service is an integral part of any business and, done correctly, it becomes a major component of successful customer service, which allows customers to feel heard and understood, and to build relationships.
GoTyme offers a no-frills customer service promise: Customers can call, chat with, or email the company via personal bankers (formerly called customer success advocates) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; and there is always 1 personal banker that will deal with a customer’s concern. A personal banker will respond to a chat in 1 minute, pick up a call in 2 minutes, or revert in an email or direct message in social media within 3 hours.
On average, calls are answered by a human in 1 minute and 33 seconds (less than GoTyme’s goal of 2 minutes). On issue resolution, the first-contact resolution rate averages 79 percent. Based on an external survey by Qualtrics, a leading customer experience management company, majority of GoTyme customers are happy with the issue resolution and are willing to recommend the bank to others. GoTyme scored 4.48 out of 5 based on the customers surveyed. Based on an in-house survey of customers, 90 percent reported satisfaction with their interaction with a personal banker.
The list of satisfied customers continues to grow. Bernice, a businesswoman, compliments GoTyme’s issue resolution: “You guys reply really fast. Whenever there are issues and I need to email, I get the response within the day, actually within less than a couple of hours. It is even resolved without me asking for [a resolution], so, thank you…”
Jeh, a bank professional, cannot get over the ease of dealing with GoTyme’s customer service. “They assisted me on-point all throughout the process when I signed up for GoTyme Bank,” he shares. “They stayed with me and they never left me hanging, so [they answered all my questions]. They’re really knowledgeable. The company itself, GoTyme, and the ambassadors that you’ll meet in their kiosks in Robinsons malls reflect [their excellent customer service], and that’s why I chose GoTyme Bank.”
Lionel Gacad, GoTyme Bank chief experience officer, says, “At GoTyme, we recognize the basic fact that people prefer to speak to people. [And] while we utilize Artificial Intelligence [AI] in many functions, we don’t ignore the fact that humanizing service will result in better customer experience. We now call our customer success advocates ‘personal bankers’ because we want every customer to be treated as a preferred client.” Gacad and GoTyme Customer Success Team recently won the CX Innovator of the Year Award from the Tradepass World Finance Innovation Series Awards 2023.
The customer is the hero
Customers seek not just products, but solutions tailored to their specific needs. They crave proactive outreach, bespoke services, and, critically, the empathy that comes with a seamless hybrid experience.
The story of the customer-as-hero begins as soon as the first contact: GoTyme makes sure that customers enjoy a friendly and inviting experience using the app or at the kiosk. The GoTyme app is easy to use and navigate even for the non-digital natives, while the GoTyme kiosk’s sleek design makes onboarding and card printing a smooth and pleasant experience. The Red Dot Design Awards 2023 and UX Design Awards 2023 have recognized the GoTyme app and kiosk as a world-class user interface and user experience.
A member of the jury of the UX Design Awards 2023 said, ““GoTyme Bank app exemplifies how banking should be—unfussy…, relatable, [reflective] of real life… Brands such as GoTyme Bank, which puts people first and not just the privileged ones… deserve to win not just a [design] award but in the market…”
GoTyme’s customer-centric app has earned praise from users. Says a happy Gen Z customer: “It has this option where I, as a gamer, can purchase gaming loads. Just a single tap then you can purchase whatever game credits you like. And then you can also transfer [funds to other banks] three times a week free…The introduction of Go Save [has] helped me manage my finances…”
Sean Matthew, an IT professional, is impressed by GoTyme’s customer service and products. He recalls that when he was approached by a BA, he was immediately reeled in when he found out that he could earn 3x Go Rewards points when I use the card at partner stores. “I found that highly attractive, since I usually get my groceries at Robinsons supermarkets,” he says.
Social media is not short on glowing reports either. Facebook user Lotte Zapata says, “I find [banking with GoTyme] sustainable and convenient. I can use it anytime for online payment, I can cash in and cash out anytime even on weekend…unlike with a [regular] bank where I have to wait for Monday to deposit my cash. Using GoTyme, I just go to the cash-in partners and have my money deposited immediately. No lines, no form to fill up, no long waits. Plus I can monitor my account through the app.”
Today, banks and financial institutions must up their game, offering top-notch experiences that cater to the emotional and practical needs of consumers. This includes demonstrating empathy during tough times, providing expert human interaction, ensuring data security, and leveraging AI to offer personalized and predictive services. Banks and financial institutions have a unique opportunity to influence customer preferences for digital channels, increase stickiness, and at the same time strengthen relationships.