The digital banker

Published September 5, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Fil C. Sionil
Fil C. Sionil


In the 1970s the Six-Million-Dollar Man was one of the prime TV series that starred Lee Major as Col. Steve Austin. This hour-long sci-fi and action series based on the novel “Cyborg” authored by Martin Caidin, tells about the crime-fighter Col. Steve, an astronaut who gained superhuman strength after being injured in a test flight. He underwent reconstruction – artificial replacements for his legs, right arm, and left eye, giving him superhuman strength, speed, and telescopic vision.

The similarity of Mr. Eugene Acevedo, president and chief executive officer of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), with the Six-Million-Dollar Man is not in physique, though. For me, it is his adeptness in technology, using his knowledge to strengthen and improve service to clients. It’s in his education. He is a digital banker. He was schooled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Oxford, and University of California, Berkeley, in blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) programs.

This banker is a digital marketing professional, certified by the Wharton School of Economics of the University of Pensylvania. He is accredited by the British Computer Society Chartered Institute for Information Technology. As undergraduate, he majored in physics at the University of San Carlos, Cebu.

Less than three months as one of the top lenders in the country, Mr. Eugene has already put to work his digital, fintech knowledge. One of the bank’s branches in the heart of Makati’s Central Business District (CBD), near a shopping mall, is now equipped with robotic process automation. “We call it BOTs,” virtual robots that handle “repetitive manual tasks,” which reduces time for a number of processes such as opening of accounts, and credit approval.

This digital banker is fastidious but he is fully satisified with the BOTs’ performance. “It’s still a work in progress,” he says. Integration of additional features is still needed to enhance the BOTs’ performance before it will be replicated in RCBC’s 20 other networks in Makati and other areas in the metropolis.

I assure, though, that he’s nowhere near a geek. He’s a regular dude, in his food preferences as well as in his daily routine. Waking up before the clock strikes six in the morning, first thing he does is to allow Harvey, his five-year-old “pusakal” (pusang kalye or alley cat) to enter their room, then read and answer text messages and emails. Breakfast normally consists of eggs and longganisa (locally made sausage) or corned beef, rice, and tapa. His daily breakfast routine is not complete without his other favorite cat, Hammersjold, named after Dag Hammersjold, the second UN chief and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, sitting on his lap. Then, off to work he goes, arriving at the RCBC tower before everyone else, which he likes since it gives him the peace and quiet to address what needs to be done, bank operations-wise. Visiting branches and touching base with the customers also keeps him quite busy during work days.

Weekends are normally for family bonding, playing with his pets – three turtles, nine cats, and, of course, quality time for his two boys and wife. What he enjoys most and looks forward to is family travel, at least twice a year. He racalls the splended time they had in an African safari and Christmas spent in Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan.

His focus, for now, is to level up bank’s technology operations, which alternatively, means increasing the human touch to entertain clients. The bank’s workforce has more time to engage customers, especially the high-valued customers and old-school who still prefer human engagement. “It’s kinda’ paradoxical but it’s the best combination–human beings reinforced by digital solution. The use of AI and data to serve the customer better. It now becomes a powerful solution. It’s the best combination,” he says.
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