For his trailblazing efforts in scaling inclusive digital finance in the country, the prestigious London-based Financial Times-owned international monthly publication ‘The Banker’ hailed Lito Villanueva, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation’s (RCBC) executive vice president and chief inclusion and innovation officer, as the Chief Innovation Officer of the Year in the recently concluded Innovation in Digital Banking Awards 2021.
Villanueva, who heads RCBC’s Digital Enterprise and Innovation Group, has been at the helm of RCBC’s digital transformation since his onboarding in 2019. He led RCBC’s digital banking innovations, including the massive deployment of its mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) terminal-based neighborhood ATMs called ATM Go in 74 out of 81 provinces nationwide, the upgrading of the mass-affluent digital banking app RCBC Mobile and Online, and the creation and launching of the Philippines’ first and only Taglish and Cebuano financial inclusion super app, DiskarTech at the height of the pandemic in 2020, catering to the mass market segment.
“We are grateful for this recognition from a prestigious institution like The Banker. There’s still a lot to be done, and many more customer segments we need to cover, and we are working on it. This is all possible thanks to the hardworking teams who share the vision of a cash-lite, accessible and inclusive digital finance in the Philippines that can withstand disruptions,” said Villanueva, who was also named as one of the Top 100 FinTech Leaders in Asia, the first and only Filipino in the list, thus far, and earned him the moniker “Mr. Fintech of the Philippines” by BizNews Asia.
Villanueva is also recognized as the Philippines’ leading thought leader on digital transformation and inclusive digital finance. With over 25 years of experience in banking, telecommunications, payments, development finance, advisory, and financial technology, he also serves as the founding chairman of FinTech Alliance.ph, a collaboration of the Philippines’s over 70 top companies in the digital finance landscape generating over 90 percent of FinTech initiated transaction volume in the country today empowering Filipinos through inclusive, sustainable, and responsible fintech innovations.
Leadership in the midst of a pandemic
Formerly the Tech Projects Awards, the Innovation in Digital Banking Awards aims to dig deeper in developments and innovations in digital banking that are contributing to the growth in the region. It also seeks to reward regional pioneers who also lead the transformation and made collaborations possible. The award is organized by The Banker, a UK-based English language international monthly financial affairs publication that was established in 1926 and is owned by The Financial Times.
The award highlights how RCBC under Villanueva’s digital leadership, led the first massive private initiative in the country to disburse government’s financial aid during the pandemic. It also underscored the importance the DiskarTech, financial inclusion super app for the low-income group and those who may be new to digital banking, especially in a country like the Philippines where over 71% of adults or 51 million adult Filipinos remain unbanked and many have no access to bank branches.
In the last few months, amid the pandemic, RCBC was able to achieve several milestones helmed by Villanueva, including covering over 90 percent of the country’s provinces with 85 percent classified as poorest provinces via ATM Go. RCBC also became the first local universal bank to have the most extensive reach through branchless banking. The RCBC DiskarTech app has registered customers from across all 81 provinces in the Philippines within the first five months from launch. All its digital products and services have registered up to four-digit exponential growth year on year. DiskarTech was recognized as the 2020 breakout finance app in the country by App Annie, a global data analytics firm covering all mobile applications worldwide.
Villanueva is concurrently the chief digital transformation advisor for the Yuchengco Group of Companies.
RCBC is one of the leading universal banks accelerating digital transformation in the Philippines. It was judged as the Philippines’ best retail bank in the 2021 Global Banking and Finance Review Awards. It is also the best digital bank for Business Tabloid in 2021, by the Asiamoney in 2020, and by the Alpha Southeast Asia for 2020 and 2021, among other global and regional recognitions.