2012 RBAP-MABS Microfinance Conference and Awards Ceremony

Over 200 rural bankers and other participants throughout the Philippines attended the 2012 National Roundtable Conference organized by the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) – Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS) Program. The two-day conference is a gathering of all RBAP-MABS participating banks to share and exchange experiences on microfinance operations, new developments in the field, and marks the Programs’ 15th anniversary. The United States Chargé d’Affaires, Ms. Leslie Bassett, opened the 15th year anniversary of RBAP-MABS and Awards Dinner along with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Monetary Board Member Ignacio Bunye.

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Rural Banks Transforming Microinsurance from Service to Business

By Ruth Aseron

The Microinsurance Initiative of the RBAP-MABS Program began in May 2008. Since then, the Initiative has progressed and assisted 192 rural banks towards becoming responsible and legitimate agents of properly regulated and sustainable microinsurance products and services.

Three rural banks shared their experiences during the 2012 RBAP-MABS National Roundtable Conference held at the Hyatt Hotel in Manila. Rural bank representatives Atty. Francis Ganzon (Bangko Kabayan), Mr. Zaldy Pacificar (Katipunan Bank) and Mr. Gilbert Soliven (Progressive Bank) shared their bank’s experiences offering microinsurance and the important lessons they learned for building a sustainable business case for  the bank.

Setting the tone for the Session was Chemonics International’s Business Development Advisor Ferdinand Sia, who presented a case study on how microinsurance benefited one rural bank client and her family.

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Banks Now Serve 1 Million Active Micro-Borrowers

Opening the 2012 National Roundtable Conference of the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines – Microenterprise Access to Banking Services Program (RBAP-MABS) on June 7, 2012, Ms. Chuchi Fonacier, Managing Director of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), cited a set of impressive statistics on how banks in the Philippines have now expanded access to microfinance services.

In her keynote address before the participants of the conference, she cited BSP data on the lending side: 190 banks with microfinance operations are reaching about one million active borrowers with an outstanding loan portfolio of PhP 7.2 billion (US$170 million). In addition to micro-loans, the BSP has been actively expanding the definition of microfinance to encourage banks to offer a broader range of inclusive financial services in the countryside.

Taking advantage of the regulations, twenty-two (22) banks have introduced micro-agri loan products to their clients; twenty-four (24) banks are offering housing microfinance; while fifty-four (54) banks have taken the initial steps for regulatory approval to offer microinsurance products to their clients. Microinsurance can be accessible through rural banks not only for microfinance borrowers but also to micro depositors and clients from low-income households. The rural banking sector is now the major provider of this broader range of microfinance services in the Philippines.

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Improving Core Banking Systems to Improve Branchless Banking Services – Lessons from Cantilan Bank

By Aditya Banerjee

This is the fourth of a four part series of articles about the RBAP-MABS National Roundtable 2012 Conference panel session entitled “Using New Channels to Expand Microfinance Services.”

Cantilan Bank’s Head of Strategic Management, Melvin Yu, shared how the bank is using new technologies, including mobile banking, to accelerate branchless banking services for their clients.

From 1980 to 1998, Cantilan Bank basically maintained all bank records manually and it was only in 1999 when the bank shifted to an automated reporting system. In 2005, the bank installed the RB2000, a banking software program developed and supported by USAID under the RBAP-MABS Program. In 2010, the bank upgraded its core banking system not only to comply with new supervisory and regulatory requirements but more importantly, to offer a broader range of services for their clients.

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Opportunities for Rural Banks to Use Smart Money to Expand Branchless Banking Services

By Aditya Banerjee

This is the third of a four part series of articles about the RBAP-MABS National Roundtable 2012 Conference panel session entitled “Using New Channels to Expand Microfinance Services.”

Mr. Jun Perez of SEEDFINANCE explained how their partnership with SMART in the Island Activation Program supports empowerment through mobile banking. SEEDFINANCE is a wholesale microfinance provider that works with retailers to provide financial and technical assistance. The Island Activation Program (IAP) specifically targets remote communities and helps develop mobile-based financial services in these under-served areas. The partnership among microfinance institutions, SMART, and SEEDFINANCE helps to enable island residents to utilize basic financial services including sending/receiving remittances, e-load purchases, bill and utility payments, and other micro-purchases. In March 2012, over 7,600 SMART Money Cards were released to clients via SMART Money Centers in seventy-one (71) rural communities.

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