RCBC executive feted as Innovator of the Year for Banking | Asian Business Review

RCBC executive feted as Innovator of the Year for Banking

Villanueva has employed strategic approaches to grow access to digital banking services and improve inclusive finance.

Lito Villanueva, RCBC’s executive vice president and chief innovation and inclusion officer, was honoured at the inaugural Asian Management Excellence Awards of the Asian Business Review as the recipient of the Philippines Innovator of the Year - Banking category for his success in accelerating digital banking and financial inclusion in the country. 

He has pivoted RCBC towards a sustainable and empathy-centric digital transformation. Since joining the bank in 2019, RCBC has garnered close to 200 awards including being named as the Philippines’ Best Bank for Digital by Asiamoney for four straight years (2020 to 2023) even at the height of the pandemic. These accolades include being recognised by YouTube Challenger for its viral out-of-the-box digital campaigns, Gartner’s Eye for Innovation awards, the Bankers Institute of the Philippines' Grand Champion for Digital Payments and Financial Inclusion, and being ranked No. 1 in customer service by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Statista, amongst others. 

Under Villanueva’s leadership, RCBC’s Digital Enterprise and Innovations Group introduced pioneering digital solutions at scale that target key segments of the Philippines. He employed strategic and tactical approaches to increase the adoption of digital banking services and improve financial inclusion.

Amongst these solutions is RCBC Pulz, a one-stop-shop digital banking app that offers the widest range of pioneering digital services, including in-app UITFs and investment management account opening, mobile check deposits, foreign exchange in six major currencies, digital concierge services, financial and digital literacy modules, convenient bank onboarding process, and AI-powered digital solutions. RCBC is also amongst the first to allow over 14 million overseas Filipinos to open bank accounts using any international mobile number through RCBC Pulz. RCBC Pulz’s seven-year revenue and gross transaction volume CAGR are at 114% and 47%, respectively.

RCBC DiskarTech is the world’s first multilingual financial inclusion application to address the low bank onboarding rates amongst rural Filipinos. Users enjoy zero dormancy fees, zero minimum deposit, no maintaining balance, fund transfers, phone credit loading, telemedicine, cardless withdrawals, bills payments, insurance, and loans. It has been recognised as the Philippines’ breakout app in 2020 by AppAnnie having generated over a million app downloads in less than 30 days since its launch in July 2020. RCBC DiskarTech registered a year-on-year 115% growth in gross transaction volume, 26% in revenues, and 138% in deposits.

RCBC has also launched ATMGo, the country’s first grassroots-based, bank-agnostic, and last-mile automated teller machine which utilises mobile point-of-sale devices to dispense financial services in unbanked and underserved communities at village hotspots. Through RCBC ATMGo, RCBC has emerged as the only private universal bank that has the most extensive reach with 100% coverage of all provinces in the Philippines. RCBC ATM Go’s seven-year revenue and gross transaction volume are at 88% and 77%, respectively.

RCBC emerged as the fastest-growing bank in the Philippines, leapfrogging from eighth position in 2018 to fifth in 2022 in the list of the Philippines’ largest privately owned banks in terms of assets. 

Behind the bank’s digital success is the visionary leadership of Villanueva, the Philippines’ award-winning thought leader on digital transformation and inclusive finance at scale. Villanueva was named a Circle of Excellence Awardee in the Asia CEO Awards and recognised as the “Mr. FinTech of the Philippines” by NewsBiz Asia. He recently bagged triple LinkedIn awards as one of the Top 100 Filipinos on LinkedIn, Philippines’ Top 30 Leaders on LinkedIn, and Top Finance Leader under the LinkedIn Leadership Catalysts Awards 2023. He is likewise featured in prestigious lists like Seamless Asia's Top 50 Banking and Payments Leaders and Top 100 Fintech Leaders in Asia, amongst his over 70 regional and global accolades.

Villanueva is also the Founding Chairman of Fintech Alliance.PH, Global Chairman of the Alliance of Digital Finance Associations, a trustee at the Philippine Blockchain Council and Asia FinTech Alliance, and an advisory board member at the ASEAN Innovation Business Platform. He also has his regular business column, Bytes in the Philippine Star.

Asian Management Excellence Awards celebrates the finest business leaders, innovators, and companies in Asia, and commends exceptional achievements in the various aspects of operations, including employee engagement programmes, diversity and inclusion projects, and health and wellness initiatives.

The Asian Management Excellence Awards is presented by Asian Business Review Magazine. To view the full list of winners, click here. If you want to join the 2025 awards programme and be acclaimed for your company's employee engagements and management initiatives, please contact Jane Patiag at [email protected].

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