RBAP-MABS Convenes Partners during a Regional Roundtable Conference in Manila

Regional Roundtable Conference

Over ninety participants from rural banks and other private sector partners gathered for the annual Regional Roundtable of the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines-Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (RBAP-MABS), a program supported by the  United States Agency for International Development (USAID), last November 9 at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila.

This year’s theme, “MABS Participating Banks: Moving Forward into the Future”, highlighted emerging issues and topics relevant to the expansion and continuation of microfinance services by the rural banks in the years to come. The event discussed pricing transparency, the developments and updates on credit reference sharing, strategic partnerships, savings mobilization, micro-insurance, and the latest local and international developments in mobile banking services.

RBAP President Ian Eric Pama welcomed participants into the conference, citing RBAP-MABS as an integral and essential component of RBAP as it embraces the ever changing marketplace. Atty. John Owens, RBAP-MABS Chief of Party, started the conference by sharing how rural banks should rise to the challenge of increased competition, demanding customers, and more inclusive regulation. He shared how the use of micro-banking offices, mobile phones, and card-based technologies can expand the reach and services offered by rural banks doing microfinance.

Afterwards, Mr. Ferdinand Sia, RBAP-MABS Research & Project Monitoring Coordinator, and Ms. Julie Peachey, Grameen Foundation Project Manager, provided research insights and cases of successful savings mobilization strategies. They showed examples of local rural banks and microfinance institutions doing market research, product development, marketing programs, and financial education campaigns to promote savings. The presentations were highly appreciated by the audience eliciting a number of questions.

To close the morning session, microinsurance agent licensing application procedures and guidelines were presented by Ms. Reonore Pardilla of the Rural Bankers Research and Development Foundation Inc. (RBRDFI).  During the discussion, the experiences of micro-insurance partners were shared with the audience, especially the management thinking of rural bankers as they went through the process of licensing.

In the first afternoon session, Ms. Laila Deles provided an overview on how rural banks can participate in the transparent pricing initiative of MF Transparency. This is also in preparation for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) regulation on effective interest rate calculations to be in effect by the middle of 2012. Ms. Deles showed how these regulations can have impact on how interest rates are disclosed and profitability of micro-loans.

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Left to right: Ms. Rivera discusses client mapping initiative; Mr. Coronel and Mr. Alip share how MiDAS was developed.

On the other hand, Ms. Rose Rivera, CORDAID Microfinance Consultant, walked the audience through the client mapping initiative of the Microfinance Council of the Philippines and CORDAID. Mr. Leonilo Coronel, Executive Director of the Rafael B. Buenaventura Foundation and Managing Director of the Bankers Association of the Philippines-Credit Bureau, shared how the Microfinance Data Sharing System (MiDAS) was developed. He explained how rural banks can utilize the information within the system to better assess client eligibility in credit decision-making. Together with Mr. Aristotle Alip, Chairman of CARD Bank, they answered questions about the pilot phase of the system and how rural banks can participate.

After that, Mr. Anthony Petalcorin, MABS Senior MIS Manager, shared updates on mobile phone banking services. This was highlighted with a preview of the new G-Xchange product called PowerPay Plus which links an ATM card to the GCASH wallets of employees who receive their payroll via GCASH. The important new features include two free ATM withdrawals a month and free insurance coverage.

In her closing speech for the Roundtable, Ms. Maria Rendon, Chief of the Office of Economic Development and Governance of USAID/Philippines, said, “It is therefore important that banks continue to reach out to existing partners to help shore up your products, processes, and people. Banks also need to develop new partnerships to assist in steering the banks’ microfinance agenda towards better transparency, equitable playing field, and improved client impact.”

View presentation on:

Session 1: Microfinance — Moving Forward for Rural Banks by Atty. John Owens

Session 2: Successful Savings Mobilization by Mr. Ferdinand Sia and Ms. Julie Peachey

Session 3: Developments in Microinsurance by Ms. Reo Nore Pardilla

Session 4: Preparing for Pricing Transparency by Ms. Laila Deles

Session 5: Client Mapping Initiatives by Ms. Rose Rivera

Session 6: Microfinance Credit Bureau: Experiences from the Field by Mr. Leonilo Coronel

Session 7: Mobile Banking Options and Updates by Mr. Anthony Petalcorin and Atty. John Owens

The RBAP-MABS Service Providers and other technical assistance providers also shared the services they offer to rural banks to assist them in expanding and managing their microfinance operations. Invited to talk were representatives from MICRA Philippines, Punla sa Tao Foundation, Seed Finance, and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. (MCPI).