GIVEN the right focus and direction, technology could bring down the barriers to financial inclusion.
China Bank Savings (CBS) Digital Business Banking Group head FVP Adonis C. Yap said they have rolled out several initiatives to promote financial inclusion especially to the unbanked and underserved.
“CBS aims to break down barriers by pushing our financial inclusion mission, a key strand of our Build and Rise Initiative, which advocates for inspiring the spirit of entrepreneurship among Filipinos and igniting consumer confidence, both of which are required for rapid economic recovery,” Yap explained in the online Asia EComm Forum 2022.
To entice the critical mass to open an account at CSB, Yap said a depositor needs only P100 to open a basic account in CBS, which is for the ATM card. Moreover, there is no maintaining balance, and customers already have access to online banking and the lender’s mobile app, he added.
“The harsh reality is that in a country with 70 percent smartphone penetration, the majority of Filipinos are without formal bank accounts,” Yap said.
“Financial inclusion remains the strategic goal, and digital banking, the so-called Mobile Revolution, plays a significant role in getting this done,” the executive added.
Although many customers of CBS still prefer paper bills and passbooks, Yap said the pandemic made them realize the importance of having alternative channels. Accounts like the lender’s “Easi-Save BASIC” automated teller machine (ATM) card allowed the bank to introduce people to digital banking accounts.
With so many people on the internet and possessing cellphones in the country prior to the pandemic, the bank sought to ensure that all new CBS clients were instantly on-boarded to the digital platforms. It is no longer a viable option, but rather a part of the product. Moreover, during the lockdowns, CBS worked hard to ensure that ATM cardholders were able to utilize their CBS Mobile Banking App and Online Banking access and thus were not excluded.
Notwithstanding the fact that there are over 100,000 merchants and millions of consumers already equipped to pay digitally in the country, Yap said there are only few users of the digital platform. “However, digital payments represent only 12 percent of transactions, and are a tiny fraction in the Micro and SME sector, which comprise the majority of merchants,” Yap said.
He estimated that Filipinos make up to 75 million utility payments in a month, but only five out of 100 transactions are digital. The rest are still paid over-the-counter in cash.
Aside from promoting internet banking, Yap said CBS strives to remain relevant. “We remain alert and adaptable to changes. CBS strives to stay open-minded and alert to new opportunities,” Yap emphasized as he rallied support for the campaign by the Bank Marketing Association of the Philippines to enhance consumer awareness and vigilance against cybercrime and fraud.