BanKo ramps up digitalization efforts

THE microfinance arm of Ayala-led Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) aims to grant more loans to self-employed micro and small business owners as its way of helping them fully recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some P9 billion worth of loans were released to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) last year, marking 2021 as a strong year for the bank, according to BanKo senior vice president Rod Mabiasen, during #BPITechTalk monthly media roundtable briefing.

He said the loans released last year were much higher compared to last year and even before the pandemic.

“It was in 2020 when we experienced the effect at its harshest. A lot of our existing borrowers had to close their stores because of the mandate by the government to operate in a limited scale. Of course, that affected their ability to pay us because their cash flow has been affected,” he said.

Mabiasen said with the economy opening up since 2021, the bank saw stores beginning to recover. He noted that even from the bank’s niche market, the public stall markets have been getting stronger sales this year compared to the previous years.

“Recovery has been felt from their level also. What is affecting them right now is the price of basic goods as some of them have been affected by the lowering value of the peso. But with the lingering effects of the pandemic, I think most of them have recovered if not fully recovered from the effects of the health crisis,” he said.

BanKo has released P32 billions in loans since its launched in 2016, serving more than 200,000 MSMEs. The bank has about 309 full branch and branch lite units spread across the country.

Mabiasen said the bank’s thrust this year is to onboard more clients into the bank’s digital space and promote financial inclusion.

“Digital banking has become a necessity now. This is the reason BanKo continues to innovate the way we deliver our products and services to benefit self-employed micro-entrepreneurs and underserved individuals,” said Mabiasen.

BanKo Mobile is designed as a convenient mobile app that allows clients to fulfill their banking needs—including opening an account; applying, monitoring and paying loans; buying load; paying bills; and sending money—anytime and anywhere.

The BanKo app also houses competitive products and services such as Todo Savings, a high-interest earning digital savings account; and NegosyoKo Lite for business loans as low as P10,000 with simple requirements.

With its digital onboarding, clients can now quickly open a Todo Savings account online with one valid ID. There are also no deposit and maintaining balance requirements, and no dormancy fees. Todo also comes with four percent interest rate per annum to maximize savings.

Applying for a loan is also made easier with BanKo’s digitally assisted lending feature, NegosyoKo Lite, where clients can apply for a loan for as low as P10,000.

“With our increasing digital capabilities, we are able to make everyday banking easier and more accessible to self-employed small and medium entrepreneurs and the masang Pilipino. We aim to uplift the lives of more Filipinos and, ultimately, share in the mission of building a better Philippines,” Mabiasen said.

In the months ahead, the bank will also be rolling out new loan products specific to sectors such as in agriculture.