More Filipinos now have deposit accounts, says BSP
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is slightly less “unbanked” just two years after the central bank made it its mission to encourage more people to open bank accounts — meaning that, slowly but surely, more Filipinos are now part of the formal financial system.
According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the number of deposit accounts in the country has so far increased by 6.8 percent from 53.5 million in 2016 to 57.1 million in 2017.
The regulator’s latest “State of Financial Inclusion in the Philippines” report also noted that, with the continuous growth of banking offices nationwide, the number of unbanked local government units declined to 554 (33.9 percent of the total) in 2017 from 582 (35.6 percent) in 2016, representing a 1.7 percentage points decrease in unbanked areas.
As of June 2018, 155 banks (out of 581 head offices) have tapped 1,751 so-called branch-lite units to expand physical outreach in 738 local government units, of which 151 were being served by branch-lite units alone.
These innovations were made under the National Retail Payment System mandating a basic deposit account framework that meets the need of the unbanked for a low-cost, no-frills deposit account, which they can open even without standard identification documents. The same scheme also espoused the branch-lite regulation, which gives banks the flexibility to determine the appropriate size and model of a banking office for a specific area or locality based on market needs.
Meanwhile, the yearend report on BSP’s financial inclusion initiatives underscored the opportunities presented by the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion in facilitating key multi-partite agreements such as the promotion of financial literacy in schools and access to finance by micro, small, and medium enterprises.
It also highlighted BSP’s contributions to laws that impact on financial inclusion, particularly on the enactment and implementation of the Philippine Identification System Act and Personal Property Security Act.
Building on the gains, BSP has identified as key priority areas for this year the continued promotion of digitization to expand access and usage of financial services, as well as strategic partnerships anchored on the NSFI to fully develop the financing ecosystem for agriculture and small business financing.
“The BSP will also continue its collaboration and partnerships on financial education and consumer protection,” the central bank said in its statement. /kga
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