Rural banks expand mobile phone banking in the countryside

Manila Times – A partnership between telecom firms and rural banks in providing financial services to more Filipinos is expected to reach new heights with the development of newer technologies and acceptance of mobile banking in the countryside becoming more prevalent.

Many expect mobile money transfers (MMT) to boom over the next three years as the cost and ability to send money and pay for basic goods and services are cheaper and more efficient than the traditional modes. Globe Telecom subsidiary G-Xchange and the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) are now working together to expand mobile banking services and provide a wider array of financial services. RBAP is also working with Smart Communications to enable MMT via the Smart Money platform and eventually mobile phone banking services for Smart subscribers as well.

While MMT is a very useful service for remittances and payments, the real potential comes from combining these platforms with a bank to offer real mobile phone banking services that make it easier for people to save, borrow, repay their loans, pay bills, facilitate rural payroll, or send or receive remittances. With more than 2,700 branches and other banking offices and more than five million clients, the rural banks are in the best position to provide the largest bank network partnership in the countryside.

With the service, cell phone owners can remit and donate money, receive and make loan payments, pay salaries, commissions and bills through a text message. It is now estimated that there are more than 70 million individual mobile phone subscribers in the Philippines and more than half of them do not have bank accounts. This is the large untapped market that rural banks are now focusing on in partnership with GXI and, in the near future, with Smart.

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