By Atty. Jun de Zuñiga
A flagship project of the Bangko Sentral is directed towards financial inclusion in the country, including the integration of the unbanked into the formal financial system. The BSP aims to accomplish it by promoting operational efficiency, customer reach and convenience through digitization.
To observe the on-the-ground implementation of the enabling regulations issued by the BSP, a study visit was organized by BSP Managing Director Pia Roman Tayag and her team. It was conducted on 01 June 2018 and attended by myself and co-Monetary Board Member Antonio Abacan, Jr., together with BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier and other officers. The study visit covered barangays in San Pablo City and Dolores, Quezon. We were warmly welcomed and ably guided by Dr. Aris Alip, and Mesdames Flor Sarmiento and Marivic Austria and other officers of CARD Bank, Inc.
The visit was very informative and enlightening and these are my observations therefrom:
- Financial inclusion is truly a public-private partnership. While the BSP is fully-keyed towards its implementation, it equally requires dedication, resourcefulness, and perseverance from the private partners. Its success is therefore anchored on the commitment of both sides.
- At the grassroots level, which includes ordinary barangay folks, housewives,
those who barely finished school, laborers and senior citizens, these people are capable of, and surprisingly are interested in, understanding technology. The objective is to eliminate their fear of, and instead learn to trust in, electronic technology. This is achievable through patient and constant campaign efforts. What was of much help was the familiarity of our populace with cellphones. Positive results were thus noted from these methods.
- The entry of the participants can be through the basic deposit accounts
and having their own passbooks/accounts can already be a source of appreciation and pride. Gradually they can be guided towards the use of ATM machines and then their learning can be progressed to the use of other financial services, such as the remote access to accounts, remittance services and other paperless applications. They certainly welcome the opportunities presented before them.
- These participants, upon their entry into the system, can in turn be the
marketers of the same services. They are the ones who will convince their relatives and neighbors how the financial services can be easily availed of and be useful to them. Awareness is clearly visible in the places where our team met and interviewed the residents.
- The above factors can lead to the dramatic growth of deposit accounts
in the area. Funds which were simply stored in the homes for safekeeping, are now brought out into the financial system. As part of the process, the people are taught how to be more financially responsible. The result is the very high collection rate ratio on their loans. Also, with their access to affordable credit facilities, and freeing them from the informal high interest charging lenders, their entrepreneurial spirit is reassured and strengthened.
These are just some of our observations, but these are already very encouraging enough. I can just imagine the ripple effects these will have if these developments are replicated throughout the country. Indeed, these are big steps towards financial inclusion and we thank the partner we visited in this program. Our sincere thanks also to Dr. Alip and his team for their hospitality and assistance.
The above comments are the personal views of the writer. His email address is [email protected]