Powering digital transformation through destination branding


Insight, Research  & Analytics, Design Thinking, Innovation, Customer Journey Design, Destination Branding, UI/UX, Digital Asset Management


Established in 1918, UnionBank is one of the fastest-growing banks in the Philippines, ranking seventh in terms of assets under management.

With only 200 branches, UnionBank had a comparatively small retail footprint. But they saw an opportunity to complement that real estate with technology to advance the digital transformation agenda. Success in digitally infused customer experience would position them as the most innovative bank and respond to emerging shifts in retail banking.

Read more

The aim was to get millennials to the bank and to get the older demographics to bank digitally. Unionbank wanted to reassure the market that they were the right partners for the digital future. The idea was to shift the retail focus from service and transaction to relationships and sales. But most of all, Unionbank was keen on making banking more accessible through customer experience innovation, in line with the CEO’s ethos of “No one left behind”.


The Ark – an innovation lab on the high street.
Bonsey Design was appointed to deliver the model for a next-generation banking destination. We started with a flagship centre in Manila known as The ARK. The concept was to design hi-tech, high-touch innovation lab to showcase UnionBank’s customer-centric innovation strategy.


Our research at the Design Thinking stage uncovered vital customer pain points.

Read more

The biggest challenge was the tedious queuing. And the frustration was amplified by having to line-up at multiple counters. The overall journey was inflexible and did not invite customers to engage beyond their transactional needs.


The Human Experience: We developed the Ark Ambassador Persona to reimagine the modern banker. The Ark Ambassadors are warm, well trained and always show up at the right time. The customer no longer needs to ricochet from one desk to the next.


The Physical Experience: We created an inviting environment in which customers would be relaxed and receptive. Space engages the visitors at a multi-sensory level. The modular design of the main banking floor allows new functionality like speaking events, cocktails and hackathons


The Digital Experience: A customer arriving at The ARK would simply need to pick up a tablet to conduct their banking transactions or explore new products. Intuitively responding to the customer’s needs, the ARK Ambassadors would facilitate the digital banking process.


For those customers unfamiliar with digital banking, we modelled the UI and UX to emulate social media and familiar digital touchpoints. We also developed specialised video, VR and AR content to facilitate customer education and enriched baking experiences.


Within six months, The ARK saw a six-fold increase in account openings, with an average 20% reduction in transaction times.

Sales for new products has increased, and the dependency on traditional banking processes has decreased. Customers now prefer self-service machines.

Over 70 different events were held here within the first year of operation, bringing together The Ark community.

Read more

We are now applying the model and its learnings across the remaining 195 bank branches. Bonsey Design is managing the roll-out with the client teams.

Our effort was further validated by the ARK winning numerous awards including:

– Most Innovative Digital Branch Project – The Asset Triple A Digital Awards 2018 (HongKong)

– Top 14 Most Stunning Bank Branch Designs in the World

– Retail Banker International: Winner of the Best Branch Customer Experience in the Asia Pacific (Singapore) 2018

– International Data Corporation (IDC) Philippines: Digital Transformer of the Year 2018