Basic deposit accounts making inroads among ‘unbanked’ folks
MANILA, Philippines — Efforts to onboard more Filipinos to the financial system are gaining ground as the volume and value of basic deposit accounts (BDAs) showed strong growth in 2021, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
Introduced in 2018, BDAs refer to a bank account with a low opening balance requirement of P100 or less. They have no maintaining balance and dormancy charges, and require simple identification.
These products are intended to meet the needs of Filipinos who are not yet using the banking system, especially those in the low-income sector, thereby fostering greater financial inclusion. The BSP said banks — of which 138 are now offering BDAs — are allowed to customize such products by using technological innovations to attract and service clients.
BSP data showed that the value of BDAs increased by 7.6 percent to P5.1 billion at the end of last year from P4.7 billion at the end of 2020.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, the number of BDAs rose by 19 percent year-on-year to 7.9 million accounts from 6.6 million in the same quarter of 2020.
The BSP said it was continually promoting BDAs through enabling policy, such as regulatory relief measures to encourage more banks to offer such basic products.
“Since ownership of an account is an important first step to perform digital payments, BDAs support BSP’s mutually reinforcing goals of financial inclusion and payments digitalization,” the regulator said.
The adoption of digital technologies is expected to ramp up the role of microfinance institutions in bridging the financial inclusion gap in the Philippines as microfinance institutions (MFIs) outpace large banks in providing services to Filipinos who have limited or no access to financial services.
The BSP’s 2019 Financial Inclusion Survey showed that MFIs have reached 84 percent of towns and cities across the archipelago. In comparison, banks — from large universal and commercial ones to smaller thrift and rural banks — have a presence in just two-thirds or 69 percent of towns and cities.
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