RP banks tailor-fitting service to OFWs

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By Alexander Villafania

MANILA, METRO MANILA — The number of Filipinos working abroad continues to increase every year. Available data from the National Statistics Office showed that there are over 2 million Filipinos abroad. For the first 10 months of 2009 they have remitted US$14.3 billion to the Philippines. This is just around seven percent higher than in 2008. Needless to say, the OFW community is a veritable cash cow for the Philippines’ struggling community.

OFW remittances generate various activities in the Philippines and increase the stability of the consumer market as families of these OFWs make their purchases and investments. As such, banking institutions in the Philippines have opened various services to accommodate these remittances and perhaps gain some revenues from this multi-billion dollar labor industry.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas  included in its website an extensive list of local banks that have presence or have partners in all countries where there are Filipino workers. All banks including BPI, Metrobank, Allied Bank, Banco De Oro, among others, are listed in the BSP directory. The BSP is also pushing these banks to promote financial literacy among OFWs so that they can maximize their finances either through saving their hard-earned money in banks or investing in businesses that make their money grow. This has resulted in several services made for OFWs.

Nearly all of the major banks in the country have one or two types of service tailor-fit for OFWs, though they have a few value-adds to keep their foreign-based depositors as well as gain new ones. Bank of the Philippine Island has its BPInoy remittance service and has enhanced it with a value add service called Real Thrills. This allows an OFW to earn virtual points for every transaction made, with the points being redeemed with certain prizes.

Metrobank has dedicated section for OFWs. It has an add-on service called World Cash Card that is essentially an automated teller machine (ATM) card. What’s more, Metrobank’s World Cash Card can apportion the regular remittances of an OFW depositor for utility bills payment, school fees, and other paid services.

Allied Bank has partnerships with at least 50 banks in countries that have large communities of Filipino workers. This allows Filipinos to send their remittances to Allied Bank’s partner financial institutions wherever their branches are available.Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation also has similar extensive network of remittance centers abroad.

Banco De Oro’s Remit Services also has global partners as well as a card system for OFWs. But it goes beyond just having a remittance services by adding a program called the Banco De Oro Asenso Kabayan  that helps OFWs manage their finances with investment options. The same service also has options for housing, car, and personal loans.

With more and more Filipinos opting to find better opportunities abroad, the influx of much-needed foreign currencies will surely grow. As this further develops, banks are seen providing more services tailor-suited our workers abroad.

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