BSP gov to rural banks: Reach out to more ‘unserved’ towns, cities

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. urged the country’s 514 rural banks on Monday to help the BSP make more gains in financial inclusion by reducing the number of local government units “unserved by any bank.”

Tetangco said 37 percent of all the local government units nationwide are unserved until now, but the isolation of some of them from the financial system has been eased by expanding the reach of the rural banks (RBs) based in the 17 regions “by licensing other financial service providers (FSPs) such as e-money agents.

“With the operation of FSPs, the percentage of LGUs that remains without any form of financial access point falls from 37 percent to 13 percent,” the BSP governor said in his keynote address before the 62nd annual national convention and general membership meeting of the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines, which opened on Monday and ends Tuesday at the EDSA Shangri-La Manila hotel in Mandaluyong City.

Tetangco cited recent findings of the World Bank, which found that the Philippines has been making financial inclusion gains as “the percentage of Filipino adults with formal accounts increased to 31.3% from the 26.6% baseline figure in 2011.”

“These accounts refer to those held in banks, cooperatives or microfinance institutions or as mobile money,” he said.

Tetangco further said that 17.8 percent of the poorest 40 percent of Filipino adults “now have a formal financial account.”

“These are not small improvements especially when you consider that 37 percent of our LGUs (604 out of 1,634) are still unserved by any bank,” Tetangco also said.

The BSP also urged rural banks “to be the stimulus” for countryside communities while they figure out how to right size and streamline their operations and use technologies suited to meeting their goals.

He invited the RBs to join the BSP in pushing forward the “National Strategy for Financial Inclusion” to be launched in July. — ELR, GMA News

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