The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) projects a substantial increase in mobile phone banking services this year as G-Xchange, Inc. (GXI) plans to activate Globe Telecom’s nationwide sub distributer network of over 18,000 cash-in and cash-out outlets.
Combined with the mobile phone banking services developed by USAID-supported RBAP-MABS program, this will provide the rural banks with a virtual ATM network that more than doubles the current count of about 8,000. “We see this as an opportunity to leapfrog the rural banking sector’s outreach in the countryside and we are gearing up to accomplish this in 2010,” said RBAP President Joseph Omar Andaya.
RBAP also has an application pending with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to utilize its own closed-loop merchant network. This network will provide cash-in and cash-out locations for RBAP banks’ clients in areas that the sub distributor network does not reach. “We are confident that we can seek approval this year from the BSP to significantly expand our outreach to not only our clients but to also provide banking services to the under-banked and unbanked sector,” President Andaya added.
Since 2004, the RBAP-MABS Program has been in partnership with GXI in the development and implementation of mobile phone banking applications and mobile commerce services for rural banks and their clients. More than 885 rural bank branches and other banking offices of more than 60 rural banks are now offer mobile phone banking services from the comfort of their homes, businesses, or just on the road. These services include Text-A-Payment for loan payments, Text-A-Remittance, Text-A-Deposit, Text-A-Withdrawal, and Text-A-Sweldo for salary services for local companies. The accredited rural banks also offer GCASH Remit, a GXI product that allows for remittances locally or abroad, with all sending fees paid by the remitter.
Mobile phone banking transactions within the rural banking sector grew by 45% in 2009. Since 2006, the cumulative amount of mobile phone banking transactions in the accredited rural banks already exceeded 5 billion pesos as of December 2009. RBAP also has a pending application within the BSP to offer Smart Money Money-In and Money-Out services and expects to receive approval soon. “This is definitely going to be the year that mobile phone banking services in the rural banking sector reach new milestones.