Since the inception of the rural banks’ mobile phone banking initiative with the USAID-supported RBAP-MABS program, mobile phone banking has continued to rise and expand in the Philippines, particularly among the unbanked and underbanked in the countryside. Thus, the Philippines became one of the world’s leaders in small microfinance-oriented rural banks utilizing mobile money platforms to facilitate access to banking services. Practitioners from all over the world now regularly visit to learn from the rural banks’ experiences.
On February 28-March 1, twelve (12) representatives from Infotel in India, the Grace Kennedy Group and Digicel in Jamaica, Digicel Haiti, Meezan Bank in Pakistan and Utiba Americas visited the Philippines to take a closer look at its mobile phone banking industry, particularly the rural banks’ role in providing these services. They first visited the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) and listened to an orientation on its Mobile Phone Banking initiative from the RBAP-MABS team.
RBAP-MABS discussed the various experiences of the rural banks in offering mobile phone banking services, as well as the challenges that the banks and their partners faced in the process. The team also shared the lessons it learned along with the rural banks and their Mobile Money partner, G-Xchange Inc. (GXI), from the conceptualization up until the present continuous expansion.
The group had the opportunity to speak with the regulators from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and learn about its initiatives to improve the regulatory framework and supervision capability in supporting the thrust of E-banking and E-money in the country.
On the second day of the visit, the study group visited GM Bank, an RBAP-MABS participating bank based in Nueva Ecija, to observe its mobile phone banking operations firsthand. The delegates visited the bank’s other banking office (OBO) in Laur to witness and experience actual transactions via the GCASH platform.
They also used GCASH to buy merchandise from a local merchant and client of GM Bank who now is able to sell her goods via GCASH.