BPI banks on e-wallet for profit growth
MANILA -The Ayala Group’s Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) is betting on a new mobile wallet and third-party partnerships to sustain growth as it closes in on a goal to surpass last year’s historic-high profit amid a period of elevated lending rates.
BPI CEO Jose Teodoro “TG” Limcaoco said the new payments and rewards app, dubbed Vybe, is a key part of their plan to grow customers more than five times to 50 million by 2028.
“We think there is a market for people who need more than one payment app. We think there is a market for people who want to earn rewards from their whole banking relationship,” Limcacao told reporters as the region’s oldest lender celebrated its 172nd anniversary on Tuesday.
“We want people to use it, make payments to utilize the BPI network to cash in and cash out. And we think this becomes very powerful when you combine BPI’s ATM network with our agency network,” he added, referring to third-party affiliates.
Vybe, which is currently in the testing phase, will be formally launched in October this year. It will compete with other mobile wallets, including GCash, the country’s leading e-wallet that is also owned by the Ayala Group alongside Chinese fintech giant Ant Group.
BPI is looking to sustain growth as the banking sector rides a wave of profitability after a series of interest rate hikes were implemented by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to cool surging inflation. It closed 2022 with a record net income of P39.6 billion.
Profits in the first semester of 2023 jumped another 23 percent to P25.1 billion, which was equivalent to 60 percent of earnings the past year.
“There is no doubt the macroeconomic tailwinds have been helpful for the bank,” Limcaoco said.
BPI’s other segments also reported robust gains for the year. Maria Theresa Marcial, president of BPI Wealth, said they were growing faster than the industry as assets under management during the first semester breached their P1 trillion target to end at P1.14 trillion.
She said they were now targeting an “ambitious” P3 trillion in assets under management by 2026.
Credit cards and personal loans were also expanding rapidly as BPI made it easier to apply using digital channels, said Marie Josephine Ocampo, head of mass retail products. “We are making a big push to acquire digitally. On the card side we are acquiring new card customers digitally,” Limcaoco said. INQ