BanKO ng Bayan scales up its efforts to give financial access to every Filipino
BPI BanKO’s President and CEO John M. Rubio is driven to fulfill three key missions for the country’s first mobile phone-based, microfinance-focused savings bank.
“Ultimately, BanKO is about service. First, we want to reach as many Filipinos as possible, wherever they may be. Second, we want them to have access to our services, especially credit, anytime they need it. Finally, we want these services to be available to them in the most efficient and convenient ways,” Rubio declares.
Rubio previously headed Globe’s sales strategy, business development, and operations division before joining BanKO as Chief Operating Officer in August 2013, and President and CEO in February 2014. He has led his team to drive 50% growth in BanKO’s accountholder base with over 650,000 accountholders to date, and are well on their way to reaching a million depositors within the year. While this is a significant achievement, Rubio believes there’s still much to be done. He shares, “80% of the population is still unbanked. There are many microfinance institutions trying to reach the market, but we believe that BanKO can best bridge the gap through its use of the mobile money platform as it allows us to reach our market in a manner that’s cost-efficient and viable.”
“To reach our market, we need to be where they are. So we’ve brought banking closer to them, into their communities,” he continues. BanKO has expanded its network of partner outlets to over 2,600 nationwide where customers can go to apply for an account, cash in and cash out, pay their bills or pay their loans. Further, they can also go to any of GCash’s 7,000 outlets for cash in and cash out transactions, or withdraw from any bank’s ATM. In addition, BanKO accountholders can receive remittances from overseas straight to their accounts, and use their ATM cards to pay for purchases at accredited merchants. This year, BanKO accounts will be able to receive fund transfers from Bancnet-affiliated banks.
BanKO’s approach to building its business through affinity partnerships is proving to be effective. “We leverage on key strategic partnerships with organizations and institutions that share in our vision of promoting financial inclusion, and giving access to people who need it most,” Rubio says.
BanKO worked closely with the USAID-funded Scaling Innovations in Mobile Money (SIMM) project to develop the mobile money ecosystems in Bulacan, Batangas City, and Quezon City. Employees of the Pulilan, Bulacan local government now receive their salaries on their BanKO accounts, and Pulilan Water District customers are now also able to pay for their water bills using BanKO. The Quezon City government uses the BanKO disbursement facility to give out allowances and stipends to public school teachers and scholars. Cooperatives of hard-to-reach barangays in Batangas City have become BanKO partner outlets as well, providing the community with access to formal banking services.
International aid agencies Mercy Corps and Goal International have also sought BanKO to facilitate the disbursement of cash assistance to beneficiaries hit by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), and over 20,000 beneficiaries have received aid through their BanKO accounts. BanKO also partnered with the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan ministry to increase the economic resilience of disaster-stricken or vulnerable communities in Payatas, Casiguran, and Culion through the mass activation of mobile-based savings accounts. The bank has also conducted financial literacy seminars and opened bank accounts for grantees of the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino conditional cash transfer program.
In the past year, BanKO focused on expanding its credit services to cater to the ever-growing needs of its accountholders. Forging partnerships with consumer goods companies like Nestlé, Unilever and Globe enabled BanKO to provide credit lines to micro-retailers at competitive rates, allowing them to purchase additional inventory of goods from their distributors to generate more sales and grow their income. In May 2014, BanKO teamed up with supermarket chain Puregold to offer members of the Tindahan ni Aling Puring Club additional capital for purchase of goods from Puregold. By introducing such innovative loan products, BanKO’s retail loan portfolio has successfully grown to over P100M, showing five-fold growth in just one year. “For 2014, we are focusing on building new loan products to increase our accountholders’ access to credit for livelihood, and also to help them in case of emergencies”, Rubio stresses. Rubio concludes, “As the “BanKO ng Bayan”, we are guided by one vision, and that is to promote financial inclusion and to create ways for our customers to have easy and immediate access to financial services whenever they need it, wherever they may be.”
For more information on BPI BanKO, visit www.banko.com.ph.