BSP Monetary Board experiences mobile phone banking services first-hand

During a presentation held in Zamboanga City on September 15, the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines-Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (RBAP-MABS) Program updated the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)’s Monetary Board members  - led by BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. – on Mobile Phone Banking Services in the Philippines through rural banks.

BSP's Monetary Board Members during the mobile phone banking services hands on exercise

The benefits of utilizing mobile money platforms such as GCASH and Smart Money were also shared during the presentation. It was noted that the Monetary Board and BSP policies were essential in providing an appropriate enabling environment to allow for the expansion of e-money use in the Philippines, especially by the rural banking sector. The BSP Monetary Board members were also able to have a first-hand experience registering for mobile money, conducting person-to-person (P2P) electronic money transfers and balance inquiries.

In addition to the presentation on mobile phone banking services, Ms. Emily Anad, Vice President and Head of Risk Management at 1st Valley Bank, shared how various BSP Circulars helped the bank to expand services in hard to reach and under-banked areas of the country. In particular, she cited Circulars 273 and 694, which allowed the bank to open microfinance-oriented branches and other banking offices that enabled the bank to expand from six branches in 1999 to twenty-five branches in 2011. Attesting to the bank success is the increase in total assets from PhP 251 million ($6.3 million) back in 1999 to more than PhP 4.5 billion (US$107 million) today. Ms. Enad also acknowledged the partnership with U.S. Agency for International Development -supported RBAP-MABS Program that worked to help 1st Valley Bank develop and expand their products and services to cater to a wider market. In particular, the bank now offers not only microfinance loans and deposit services but also micro agri loan and housing microfinance products.

1st Valley Bank was one of the first banks to offer mobile phone banking services when this was introduced by the RBAP MABS Program in 2005. The bank is also an accredited payout center for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a conditional cash transfer program of the Department of Social Work and Development and is now servicing over 30,0000 beneficiaries.

The RBAP-MABS program continues to work with rural banks to expand access to banking services.  Since the program began, participating rural banks have provided microfinance loans to more than 900,000 clients valued at more than PhP 37 billion ($800 million) and currently manage over 1.4 million micro deposit accounts.  The number of registered clients for mobile phone banking services have exceeded 256,000 and accredited rural banks have processed more than 2 million mobile phone banking transactions valued at more than PhP 12 billion (US$250 million) in mobile phone banking transactions since 2006.