With the common dream of uplifting the lives of impoverished Filipinos through financial education, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), has partnered with BPI BanKo (BanKo) to institute BanKo para sa PangarapKO: A Financial Literacy Program through Mobile Banking. The project, which commenced in March 2014, aims to alleviate the current financial situation of the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) by enhancing the basic financial literacy of the program participants.
SLP faces the challenge of instilling the habit and culture of savings to its program participants within the current context of low financial inclusion in the Philippines. A report published by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reveals that only 20% of the Filipino population actively uses formal savings facilities such as a bank account. Some of the factors attributed to this statistic include cultural beliefs, poor education and information dissemination, lack of attractive products and services for the low-income sector, and proximity to banks, to name a few. Studies show that access to such formal financial services would be a significant step towards improving the socio-economic well-being of an impoverished household.
In conjunction with DSWD’s field officers, BanKo, the country’s first and only mobile-based savings bank, has been conducting financial literacy sessions since April to 4Ps beneficiaries to teach basic savings values and budgeting habits. After explaining the principle of “income minus savings equals expenses”, participants are offered the opportunity to start saving formally in a bank account. BanKo only requires P100, one valid ID and a Globe or TM SIM to open an account, and accepts cash ins for as little as P50 at a time.
In a meeting with DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, BanKo reported that over 50,000 program beneficiaries have opened BanKo accounts after attending the financial literacy sessions. Within a 4-month period, almost 3,000 sessions have been conducted in 10 regions – from urban areas such as Payatas in Quezon City to remote locations like mountain barangays in Tuburan, Cebu, and the island of Culion in Palawan. A total of 200,000 beneficiaries are expected to start saving through their BanKo accounts as a result of the program.
At least 44,000, or 84% of the beneficiaries, have already added to their account balances. Secretary Soliman noted that the P8.4M cashed in by 4Ps beneficiaries in the last 3 months are an indication that the poor are inclined to save, no matter how small the amount. “If you give to the poor, they will not squander the opportunity to improve their lives. The support from members of the private sector such as BanKo is integral to our efforts towards development. We are one with BanKo in promoting inclusive growth, and we want to make sure that no one is left behind,” she said.
BanKo president John Rubio vows to expand the partnership with DSWD. “The banking and telecommunications expertise of BPI and Globe were combined to form BanKo, with the objective of addressing a national problem. Our mission is to provide affordable and convenient access to formal banking services for every Filipino, where and when he needs it. We want to eliminate the burden of our countrymen who want to rebuild their lives and we are able to do this by supporting DSWD programs. Together, we can do bigger and greater things,” he said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), headed by Sec. Corazon “Dinky” Soliman (center), teams up with BPI BanKo (BanKo) in promoting financial literacy to beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Also in photo are BanKo President and CEO John Rubio, DSWD Sustainable Livelihood Program Director Georgina Ann Hernandez, DSWD Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Deputy Director Venus Rebuldela, and BanKo Chief Development Officer Rob Nazal.