A 12-member study group from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas(BSP) led by Monetary Board Member Juanita Amatong and Dep. Gov. Nestor Espenilla, Jr. visited Cantilan Bank and Green Bank in Butuan City from July 23-24. During the visit, the BSP engaged the officials and staff of the banks in an open dialogue concerning the challenges in their microfinance operations and the regulatory areas that could help promote sound expansion of microfinance services among rural banks. Cantilan Bank and Green Bank are both participant banks of the RBAP-MABS program, which is supported by USAID/Philippines.
At the Cantilan Bank branch in Butuan City, Ret. Gen. Charles Hotchkiss, chair of Cantilan Bank’s executive committee, briefed the group on the bank’s microfinance operations and its agriculture microfinance loan product performance. Cantilan Bank is one of the pioneers in implementing the RBAP-MABS Approach to agriculture microfinancing, which began in 2005.
The study group visited Cantilan Bank’s micro agri clients engaged in the piggery business and processing of snack food items using available farm raw materials (rice, corn, banana, and cassava). This visit highlighted the need for loan amounts¬¬ and terms beyond the present regulatory limits of PhP150,000 and 12 months, respectively.
The visit by the BSP group to Green Bank focused on the bank’s mobile phone banking services and kiosk operations. Green Bank started offering mobile phone banking services using the GCASH platform in 2005. With over 40 branches and 90 kiosks nationwide, Green Bank is one of the top rural banks in offering mobile phone banking services to their clients. The field visit to two merchants that provide cash in/cash out services showed the study group the role that cash-in and cash-out merchants play in facilitating remote loan payments through e-money, hence, saving the borrowers the time and expense for transportation each time.
Meanwhile, the visit to two Green Bank kiosks (Other Banking Offices) located around the Butuan City area provided insights on the banking services demanded by rural bank clients, as well as the potential functions these kiosks can play in expanding full microfinance services including loans as well as micro-saving deposit services.