E-banks to help remittances reach more Filipinos
Despite consistency in remittances and growing financial literacy, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is dismayed to note that many Filipinos still have little access to an important financial institution: banks.
This is problematic to Filipinos who not only fail to fulfill requirements to open bank accounts but who also depend on remittance money but cannot access them due to lack of banks.
BSP Deputy Governor for the Supervision and Examination Sector Nestor Espenilla Junior remarked that, although there are 9,884 bank networks and 14,528 auto-teller machines (ATM) around the country, these are still not enough to cover requirements.
Espenilla revealed that majority of these networks are located in Metro Manila and areas with higher population and income, ‘leaving rural areas without even the most basic banking services.’ He pointed out the Cordilleras and Eastern Samar as areas that are deprived of basic bank services.
But the deputy governor shared a piece of good news: BSP is looking to tap e-banking as a solution to shortage of banks. ‘We are hoping to deploy it this year. It will be interactive so you will be able to trace where the financial institutions are.’
He said that data from the programme can help in policy-making when analysed and lead to ‘solutions to attain greater financial inclusion.’
BSP recognises that e-banks cannot replace traditional bank services. However, it believes that the programme will serve as a ‘gateway’ to provide more access points to Filipinos who direly need access to financial services. As an example of e-banking’s success, Espenilla cited the government’s use of conditional-cash transfers that are electronically-based and whose recipients do not always have bank accounts.
He said that [e-banks] are necessary mechanisms that will help the Philippines rise above financial barriers. ‘We need to utilise technological innovations to come up with solutions. We cannot just proceed like in the past. We should learn and build upon the 160 years of experience [in banking].’