BPI Globe BanKO to tap unbanked majority of Filipinos

May 12, 2014

"A savings account for every Filipino."

BanKO President John Rubio leads a team that aims to serve the country's unbanked segment with innovative solutions and partnerships.

For John Rubio, President and CEO of BPI Globe BanKO, his mandate is clear: provide the 80 percent of Filipino households who remain unbanked with easy access to affordable and convenient banking services.

According to the first Consumer Finance Survey of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) released in 2012, about 8 out of 10 heads of Filipino households do not have bank accounts, and about 4 out of 10 households do not have cash on hand to be used in case of emergencies. It is this unbanked segment that BanKO has reached out to since launching its consumer banking services in 2012. Its accountholder base has grown to half a million in only two years, due in part to group acquisition efforts and joint projects with the social development sector.

Rubio was recently appointed to head the country's first mobile phone-based, microfinance-focused savings bank. Previously, he was in charge of Globe Telecom's sales strategy, business development and operations, so he is well-equipped to take on the challenge of doubling BanKO's customer base and distribution network by year-end.

He envisions BanKO as the game-changer who will reach the unbanked by giving them access to financial products, particularly microloans that will allow accountholders to improve their living conditions, build small businesses, or address emergencies.

For Rubio, innovation is key to BanKO's success. "You need to find a way to reach the market in a manner that's cost-efficient and effective with innovative solutions and partnerships," he shares.

Account holders transacting in BanKO's partner outlets

One such example is BanKO's partnership with the USAID-funded Scaling Innovations in Mobile Money (SIMM) project that developed mobile banking ecosystems in Pulilan, Bulacan, in Quezon City and Batangas City.

BanKO worked with the local governments of Pulilan, Bulacan and Quezon City to offer its disbursements facility for salaries, allowances and stipends of government employees, teachers and scholars. Pulilan Water District customers are now also able to pay for their water bills using their BanKO accounts. 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 emergency cash transfers to beneficiaries in areas by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Within weeks of the typhoon, BanKO had successfully disbursed to more than 1,500 beneficiaries in Iloilo and Cebu. To date, more than 5,000 beneficiaries have received aid through their BanKO accounts, and close to 25,000 individuals in relief areas have been given BanKO accounts. More partnerships with other aid agencies and NGOs are in the pipeline.

New services have also been made available to BanKO's customers. Aside from being able to pay their utility bills, buy prepaid load, or send money using their cellphones, accountholders are now able to receive remittance from abroad through BPI's international partners. The remittance is credited directly to their accounts, which is not only more convenient and safe for the recipient, but it also encourages them to save as they can keep the remittance in their account and withdraw it from the ATM or cash-out at any partner outlet only when needed. Cashless shopping is now possible for accountholders as well, as BanKO ATM cards may be used to pay for purchases made at BancNet-accredited merchants.

A BanKO ATM card

BanKO launched a number of innovative loan products and has successfully grown its retail lending portfolio to more than Php70 million in just one year, and growing by 60% since end of 2013. This was achieved through partnerships with consumer goods companies such as Nestlé, Unilever and Globe Telecom, enabling their distributors to extend loans to finance additional inventory of goods for small and medium-sized retailers at competitive rates. BanKO also tied up with GCash to offer salary loans to GCash's payroll accounts. Rubio aims to scale up BanKO's retail loan business and disrupt the informal lending sector ("5-6") in 3 to 4 years.

Driven by a deeper purpose to help people and uplift their living conditions, Rubio is confident that the BanKO team is moving towards the right direction. BanKO's significant progress in 2013 sets the foundation for its plans to further extend its reach within the unbanked sector in 2014, giving more Filipinos access to convenient, inexpensive, and relevant financial services.

To know more about BanKO and the services it offers, visit www.banko.com.ph.