The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines-Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (RBAP-MABS) Program was launched in 1997. The Program – supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP), with oversight provided by the Mindanao Development Authority – assists rural banks to develop the capability to profitably provide financial services – microloans, microdeposits, microinsurance, and remittances – to the microenterprise sector. During its fourteen years of operation, the Program has also introduced innovations, both in delivery channels by pioneering and expanding mobile phone services and in helping rural banks to develop new microfinance products to serve small farmers (through the micro agri-loan product) and finance construction and housing improvement (through housing microfinace products).
Since 1997, the Program has worked with over 120 banks with more than 1,300 branches and other banking offices in the developing microfinance products, including microloans, microdeposits, micro-agri lending, housing microfinance, mobile banking, and microinsurance. These initiatives have allowed MABS participating banks to expand and offer new microfinance products and services to their clients.
During his message at the recent launch of the Paeng Awards and the Signing of the Memorandum of Agreement of Microfinance Information Data System, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. cited how the Program’s initiatives have allowed rural banks to serve their clients’ needs and provide meaningful microfinance services to the entrepreneurial poor. In particular, rural banks have surpassed 3 million cumulative loans disbursed totaling PhP 39 billion pesos (approximately US$ 850 million) to approximately 950,000 microloan clients.
RBAP-MABS has also developed a suite of mobile phone banking applications in partnership with Globe Telecom’s G-Xchange Inc (GXI), which allow more than 300,000 rural banks clients as well as support for conditional cash transfer recipients using the GCASH platform. Today, clients can pay their loan amortization, make deposits or withdrawals, send or receive money transfers, or even provide remote payroll services via a mobile phone. Since 2006, accredited rural banks have processed more than 2.5 million mobile phone banking transactions valued at more than PhP 13 billion (US$ 300 million). In 2012, rural banks expect to see an increase in mobile banking services and transactions with new products and services using the GCASH platform as well as new services via Smart Money.
In addition, under the Microinsurance Initiative, rural banks can now offer microinsurance products and services. In 2011, a turnkey approach to assist rural banks become licensed microinsurance agents called TRACS Compliance Process was developed by the Rural Bankers Research Development Foundation, Inc. (RBRDFI) with assistance from USAID and the International Labor Organization’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility. To date, 354 rural bank officers and staff from 168 rural banks have completed the training conducted by RBRDFI in 2011.