Philippines’ Financial Industry and NGO Groups Link For Faster COVID-19 Subsidy Delivery

Philippines’ Financial Industry and NGO Groups Link For Faster COVID-19 Subsidy Delivery

by April 1, 2020

Private companies join hands in support of the government’s social amelioration program to Filipinos severely affected by the COVID-19 enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) through the promotion of alternative encashment facilities nationwide.

In an agreement signed today, an operational plan was formed among groups of rural banks, cooperatives, and microfinance institutions non-government organizations, and a payment collection company to provide alternative option to quickly disburse government’s over P200 billion emergency subsidy to over 18 million families through the use of RCBC’s pocket and mobile automated teller machine (ATM) known as ATM Go. This collaboration was called Damayang Sambayanihan: Hatid-Ayuda sa Kababayan.

Signatories of the memorandum of understanding were Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP), MASS-SPECC Cooperative Development Center (MASS-SPECC), National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), CIS Bayad Center, Inc., and RCBC. The combined branch network and customer touchpoints of these partners exceeds 5,000 throughout the country.

ATM Go is among RCBC’s digital facilities capable of accepting Banccet debit and prepaid cards issued by any financial institution supervised by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. This service may be used for cash withdrawal, balance inquiry, funds transfer, bills payment, and e-loading transactions.

Eugene Acevedo

Eugene Acevedo

“We heed the call of President Duterte for the private sector to complement government’s effort in containing the pandemic and providing relief to those severely affected. This is one of RCBC’s contributions as a member of the larger Philippine society.”

RCBC President and CEO Eugene Acevedo said.

“RBAP is ready to utilize its massive rural bank network of over 2,700 branches nationwide to handle the countryside pump priming needed to address this global pandemic and local quarantine,”

RBAP president Roberto Abello said.

With the limited mobility of Filipinos due to the enforcement of the ECQ and partial operation of banks and other financial intermediaries, the use of digital channels and other electronic means such as ATM Go will bridge the gap towards access to government aide.

“Cooperatives, with its presence in the rural areas, join the bigger community in the use of digital channels to reach out to more people in these trying times,”

NATCCO chief executive officer Sylvia Paraguya said.

On top of existing 1,250 RCBC ATM Go terminals currently in use nationwide, additional 2,000 units will be deployed that can be utlized by all these partners, bringing the service to various barangay in the country.

Lito Villanueva

Lito Villanueva

“This is our collective action in solidarity with the nation in crisis. These rural banks, cooperatives and microfinance institutions, and even sari-sari stores are the ones closest to the poor and marginalized in the country,”

RCBC executive vice president and chief innovation and inclusion officer Lito Villanueva.

RCBC has been running the ATM Go service for the past two years, enabling rural banks, sari-sari stores, cooperatives, microfinance institutions, pawnshops, and lending agencies the ability to provide the remote ATM services as a last mile approach.

“We hope to be of service to our people in this extraordinary time as a payout conduit in Southern Philippines, especially in hard-to-reach areas within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,”

MASS SPEC chief executive officer Bernadette Toledo said.

Transactions using this service have grown in 2019 by over 560 percent year-on-year in terms of count and volume, reaching more than P3.1 billion in throughput. Half of its transactions serviced payouts for millions of conditional cash transfer beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

“We are extending our assistance through our network in making payout facility available to our people especially during this critical time. And this collaboration will make it more effective and expansive,”

Bayad Center president and CEO Manny Tuazon said.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law last March 25 Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law declaring a national emergency arising from the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation granted special powers to the President in addressing the public health crisis. This includes a social amelioration program or the granting of emergency subsidy of P5,000 to P8,000 to 18 million low income households all over the country.

Featured image credit: Lito Villanueva’s Facebook post