Residents of Payatas, Quezon City now have easier access to formal financial services with the launch of PondoKO para sa Kinabukasan: Mainstreaming Financial Inclusion in Disaster-Stricken Communities Through Mobile Banking, a joint project of BPI BanKo, Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB), USAID-Scaling Innovations in Mobile Money (SIMM) Project and Barangay Payatas. The project aims to increase economic resilience and social protection of disaster-stricken or vulnerable communities through the mass activation of mobile-based savings accounts.
Three sari-sari stores within Barangay Payatas were recently inaugurated as BanKo Partner Outlets, allowing residents living near the rehabilitated dumpsite to apply for savings accounts and perform financial transactions such as cash-in and cash out. Applicants need only P100, a Globe or TM SIM card and one valid ID to open an account.
Present at the launching were BPI BanKo president John Rubio, Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan Executive Director Fr. Xavier Alpasa, S.J., Barangay Payatas Chairman Manuel Guarin, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippines Program Management Specialist Ma. Teresita Espenilla and USAID-funded Scaling Innovations in Mobile Money (SIMM) Project Chief of Party Mamerto Tangonan, as well as community leaders from Payatas.
BPI BanKo President John Rubio hands over the BanKo ATM card to Payatas Barangay Chairman Manuel Guearin during the launch of PondoKO Para sa Kinabukasan. Joining him are (l-r) BPI BanKo Account Officer Migi Soriano, Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan Executive Director Fr. Xavier Alpasa, S.J. (second from left), USAID-SIMM Program Management Specialist Ma. Teresita Espenilla (fifth from right), USAID-SIMM Chief of Party Mamerto Tangonan (second from right), and community leaders from Barangay Payatas.
Rubio highlighted BanKo’s mission to bring banking to the unbanked and provide a formal financial platform to improve their standard of living. “BanKo is giving every Filipino the opportunity to save. We bring formal financial services to the grassroots level through partnerships with groups like Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, USAID-SIMM and LGUs like Barangay Payatas. Residents in Payatas no longer need to leave their barangays and travel to the nearest bank in Commonwealth just to deposit their savings because they now have a BanKo partner outlet within the community.”
BanKo also plans to give its accountholders with easy access to loans by year-end. “We intend to disrupt the informal lending sector by empowering our accountholders with the ability to secure loans for capital, for calamities or emergencies, and give them a better alternative to 5-6,” he says.
Fr. Xavier Alpasa, S.J., who founded the social enterprise Rags2Riches while serving as parish priest in Payatas for four years, advised community leaders to “reduce the risks associated with disasters and natural calamities by being financially prepared”.
Mamerto Tangonan, who leads the SIMM project in expanding mobile money services in the country, underlined the importance of collaboration of various sectors in improving the financial services of these areas. “We are happy that the barangay leaders are open to this partnership and support this intervention in providing a more accessible financial service to the people of Payatas. This is a big help to the families so that they will be able to save more and eventually, make their dreams come true,” he says.
Florentina Carrera, owner of RS Store, welcomes officials from BPI BanKo, Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan and USAID-SIMM as her store is inaugurated as one of the three new BanKo partner outlets within Barangay Payatas.
With PondoKO para sa Kinabukasan, 30,000 community members in Payatas are expected to open savings accounts with the mobile-based bank. The program will also be implemented in other SLB-assisted communities in Culion, Palawan and Casiguran, Aurora.