RBAP-MABS links rural banks, insurers, MSPs, and ATM and m-banking partners in “speed networking” activity

Throughout its more than  12 years of working to strengthen the Philippine microfinance industry, the USAID-supported RBAP-MABS program has sought innovative methods not only in microfinance product and service delivery, but also in training methods on how to sustain best practices and maintain strong business partnerships.

At the 2011 National Roundtable Conference held in Manila on May 23-24, RBAP-MABS, for the first time, employed a “speed networking” approach to facilitate networking among rural banks and other microfinance partners so as to nurture relationships and explore partnerships and business opportunities. RBAP-MABS brought together partner rural banks, insurance providers, MABS service providers (MSPs), and ATM and m-banking partners in the activity.

About Speed Networking

“Speed networking” is a social and business networking event “based on speed dating and a Jewish tradition of chaperoned gatherings of young Jewish singles, originally intended to keep Jewish singles from marrying out of faith”. (See source: European …

Conditional Cash Transfer, Rural Banks, and Mobile Money Transfer: Observations and Reflections

In a scene being played out in various places in the country, some of them more remote, over 400 households from four barangays in the municipality of Sogod, Cebu received financial support from the government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) on May 4, 2011.A 5-year program of the Philippine Government, 4Ps provides conditional cash grants for the poorest families in identified municipalities as financial aid for the family’s health and for children’s education. Aside from disbursements through the Land Bank of the Philippines, conditional cash transfers (CCT) are being disbursed too with the involvement of mobile money remittance channels such as rural banks and their mobile phone banking facility.

On May 4, I witnessed the day-long process of how atotal of PhP562,700 ($13,070) was disbursed to 414 beneficiaries composed mainly of women.It was the second cash grant for this group of …

The Power of Savings – Rural Miners Open their First Savings Accounts

From Butuan City going north towards Surigao Norte is the town of Tubod, where mining has become a major source of employment to local residents and those in the outlying towns. Hired by labor sub-contractors of the mining company there, the number of miner-laborers peaks during the dry season and declines during the rainy season. The mining site is about five kilometers away from the Cantilan Bank Tubod Branch, which started its operations in 2005.

As is the practice in the mining industry, mining companies operating in Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur outsource their labor requirements to sub-contractors. In some cases, the laborers generally come from outside the local towns. In the case of the mining company in Tubod, more than 50% of the laborers are local residents who work as “casual” laborers in the mine. Since the work is only temporary, there are times when these laborers …

Mobile money wallets help microentrepreneurs in the Philippines

Microentrepreneurs in a Filipino market are saving time and money by accepting payments using their mobile phones.

Turning sideways to squeeze between the tightly packed stalls, customers stop to admire strings of white, pink, and green pearls displayed by Jamera Macmac and her family. The family runs a pearl business in the bustling Greenhills Shopping Center in Manila, Philippines, where customers seek out their unique designs. After years of managing the business, Ms. Macmac wanted to look for new ways to sell her products. She also grew tired of frequent trips to the bank to deposit cash or send money to family in Mindanao.
The innovative solution was for Ms. Macmac’s customers to pay her using mobile money. This is possible due to the collaboration between USAID’s Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS) Program, the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) and Filipino Mobile Money Issuer G-Xchange Inc. (GXI).  

BSP officers and Philippine Monetary Board member visit Green Bank and Cantilan Bank

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 …

Cantilan Bank Celebrates 30 Years of Progressive and Excellent Community Banking Services

More than 500 attendees packed into a basketball gymnasium in Cantilan’s town square to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Cantilan Bank. The gala highlighted the banks remarkable growth over the past three decades and underscored the important role microfinance services played in their success.

MABS started working with Cantilan Bank 11 years ago, when it had just three branches and 35 employees. Now, the bank is 260 employees strong with 12 branches across Surigao. The bank-wide loan portfolio grew from around P50M to P652M. The number of microfinance borrowers is 39% of Cantilan’s total borrowers with a client base of over 8,400 hard-working microentrepreneurs, small farmers, and store owners. The number of deposit accounts is 58,522 with P524M in deposits. More importantly, there are 3 depositors to every borrower, and voluntary savings by micro-depositors comprise 50% of total microloans outstanding. Indeed, the bank has grown drastically by continuously evolving …

Mobile phone banking merchant partners help ease banking in Surigao

A growing number of store owners are collaborating with rural banks and connecting to the GCASH network from Cantilan to Butuan City and across the region. These store owners are providing cash-in and cash-out services to support mobile phone banking services as well as mobile money transfer in these areas.

The partnership between RBAP-MABS and G-XChange, Inc. (GXI), Globe Telecom’s wholly owned subsidiary, has helped develop and implement mobile phone banking applications and m-commerce services for rural banks and their clients.  Based on a secure GCASH menu, mobile phone banking clients of accredited rural banks can receive loans, make payments and deposits, withdraw funds from their deposit accounts, receive money from relatives and friends, and even buy and sell goods remotely via GCASH.

Merchant-partners provide the opportunity for rural bank clients to conveniently deposit cash into or withdraw cash from their mobile wallets.  While rural banks in turn help to …

Accounts of Housing Microfinance Clients

During a visit to Cantilan Bank, a team of MABS employees had the opportunity to observe first-hand how housing microfinance loans have impacted the bank’s clients.  Many microfinance clients own their homes, and often have a need to make incremental repairs or improvements using whatever funds they may have saved over time if they have no access to credit.   Housing microfinance loans generally mirror the way low-income households build or improve their homes in the countryside, which follow a progressive building approach.  Clients often build a foundation then the walls, then add roofing, and include water, sanitation, and electricity, step-by-step. MABS participating rural banks follow the approach that clients take to home improvement and home building in the housing microfinance loan products they offer to their clients.  While loans are slightly larger and longer term than typical microenterprise business loans, they are still paid back in periods of 12 months …

RBAP plans for big time mobile phone banking services expansion this 2010

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 …