UNION Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) is eyeing the expansion of mobile banking in Mindanao amid the fight between Philippine government forces against Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City, where about 5,000 families are relocating to neighboring cities.
UnionBank recommends mobile banking in more cities in Mindanao to extend financial services to individual customers and corporate clients in the region.
UnionBank President and CEO Edwin R. Bautista said the 24-hour and daily service of mobile banking through the Internet assures continuous provision of financial resources, especially in Mindanao, where armed conflicts intermittently arise.
“They [government agents] ask us how we can bring banking to the people of Mindanao, for example, in Basilan. For us, it is not to open many branches, but bring mobile banking to the masses in Mindanao,” Bautista said at the bank’s annual stockholders meeting last Friday.
About 15 percent of its branches are located in the region, which include the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Malaybalay, Kidapawan, Iligan and the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Bautista added mobile banking can complement the operations of branches to maintain normalcy of commercial activities by its corporate partners, not only in the region, but also in the whole country.
“We want to keep things flowing. The last thing we want to happen is for commerce to grind to a halt. We are supporting a lot of customers who sell to Mindanao,” Bautista said.
Through its initiatives in mobile banking, UnionBank hopes the banking industry will be encouraged to provide more platforms for smartphones that can also facilitate banking-embedded experiences, such as retail and bill payments.
Recently, UnionBank launched EON Selfie Banking, where the public can buy EON cards at 7-Eleven stores and register online to transfer funds and pay bills with the use of the Internet. UnionBank plans to employ more of the branches of the convenience store nationwide for the 44 percent of the country’s population who are smartphone users.
Bautista sees Mindanao as a possible hub for M-Pesa, a mobile phone-based platform for money transfer and financial services that include money deposit and withdrawal, remittance delivery, bill payment and microcredit, introduced by the British government in Kenya in 2007.
In 2015 M-Pesa in Kenya generated $326 million of revenues from 80 percent of its population who use mobile phones.
Similary, M-Pesa uses vendor agents to receive and transfer funds electronically stored under the consumers’ account.
“The secret to banking in Mindanao is mobile,” Bautista added.