BIZ BUZZ: The ‘greening’ of deposits | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: The ‘greening’ of deposits

/ 02:03 AM November 23, 2022

Bank of the Philippine Islands’ (BPI) newest time deposit product may not fully shield you from inflation, but it does offer an improved savings mechanism while helping save the planet.

Launched on Tuesday, BPI Green Saver time deposit is a five-year tax-free placement that pays anywhere from 4 to 4.5 percent per year, depending on how much money you put on the table.

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Southeast Asia’s oldest bank is also targeting a broad market segment, with placements starting at an accessible P5,000.

Savvy investors might find higher returns elsewhere, of course, but BPI Green Saver and other similar products offer a chance at saving money in a more meaningful manner.

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In this case, it comes with the opportunity to support loans for renewable energy projects, green buildings as well as construction and businesses focused on lowering energy consumption.

BPI sustainability office head Jo Ann Eala said some P10 billion in loans were allotted by the bank for such projects.

Even better, the businesses to be funded will be vetted by consultants from the International Finance Corp. (IFC), helping protect the public against misleading “greenwashing” marketing tactics.

The bank acknowledges this is a problem, thus adding the layer of credibility provided by the IFC.

“I assure you these are not greenwashed projects,” Eala said. —Miguel R. Camus

‘GCashing’ in

Gone are the days when tech companies only have to acquire and acquire customers to become the darling of investors. Global sentiment on the tech space is on the downcycle these days; investors have become more discerning—and demanding—of the path toward sustainability, said Martha Sazon, CEO of GCash.

Fortunately for the country’s first tech “unicorn,” or “double unicorn” at that, GCash is one of just a handful of its global peers that had gone over the hump.

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GCash is also pleasantly surprised that despite the dip in e-commerce activities in the Philippines after the relaxation of local quarantine protocols, its own volume has continued to grow. This only means “they find value in the app,” Sazon told Biz Buzz in a chance interview on the sidelines of Singapore Fintech Festival 2022, where she impressed many as a panelist at plenary session “Surviving Crisis: Handling Headwinds for Digital Finance.”

Wondering how soon GCash could embark on an initial public offering, given that it has reached the scale (69 million users) that peers could only dream of, and started to deliver profits?

“It’s not a good time to go public because the global environment is not good. Maybe this will take two years more,” she said.

GCash vows to use this time to consolidate operations after the rapid buildup in business during the lockdowns, which had accelerated consumer digitalization and thus forced it to mature faster, from just emerging out of the startup phase before the pandemic.

So what’s next for GCash? Sazon sees room for lending activities to grow via this platform, alongside investment (in stocks and cryptocurrencies on top of funds that are already available), adtech (advertising through the app) and insurance businesses, among others.

Thanks to its strategic investor Ant Financial, GCash also recently launched its cross-border payments service. The app can now be used in Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia at merchants linked to Ant Financial’s Alipay platform.

“I think we’re on the right path, so we continue to focus on growing our use cases, our businesses, making them more stable. We don’t know what will happen, so we’re making it more resilient, waiting for the external environment, for the stars to align,” she added.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Top market maker

Billionaire Arthur Ty-led banking giant Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank) is on a roll as it dominated awards for the sale of corporate and government securities.

This included the Top Market Maker for 2023 award from the Bureau of Treasury for cornering the biggest market share in trades. Underscored was Metrobank’s role in helping with public financing and widening financial access to more Filipinos.

“[W]e will always strive to make our local markets more liquid, offer relevant products and insights, and ensure that the right mechanisms are in place to make it thrive,” said Metrobank senior executive vice president and head of financial markets sector Fernand Antonio Tansingco.

Metrobank also bagged the top sell-side institution award for a third straight year during the 2022 Asset Benchmark Research Awards. Recognized were top traders under the Region’s best local currency bond award category.

The awardees were: Metrobank rates and credits division head Kathryn Abes and government securities trading department head David Estacio who ranked first and second, respectively, in the trading category.

Moreover, sales trader Samantha Dayrit and financial institutions sales head Gabriel Liboro placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the sales category while institutional investors coverage division head Ruben Zamora ranked fourth in the research category.

—Miguel R. Camus

Wi-Fi by sachet

Globe Telecom has ramped up efforts to make internet connectivity cheap and accessible. It has turned over 600 “sari-sari” stores and other community-based commercial spaces into Wi-Fi hubs offering sachet-sized prepaid fiber services as of end-October.

With this offering, users can have access to the internet for one hour for P5, and 12 hours for P20. Subscribers can also pay P50 to P500 to have connectivity for three to 30 days.

“It especially caters to the youth, providing powerful and reliable connectivity for undisrupted bonding with their ‘barkadas,’” Globe said in a recent statement.

More than this, the Ayala-led firm hopes to support connectivity for school, work, entertainment and other online activities.

This initiative was launched about two months ago as Filipinos grapple with rising consumer prices. It was first introduced in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna, Cebu, Tacloban, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and Zamboanga.

“There is a segment of the market that is predominantly prepaid, but now in need of better speed and more reliable connection that fiber can provide. As such, Globe continues to roll out prepaid fiber hubs to cater to the growing number of the digital Filipino,” said Janis Legaspi-Racpan, Globe At Home brand management head.

Globe vows to tap more local retailers so more Filipinos can avail themselves of cheap services.

—Tyrone C. Piad INQ
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