RCBC rolls out first-of-its-kind peso currency in digital format

By Espie Angelica A. de Leon

The Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) is setting its sights on digital technologies, including tools for cashless transactions, for greater inclusion among Filipinos, especially with 80 to 90 percent of them still unbanked and living in far-flung areas.

Margarita B. Lopez, RCBC senior vice president and head of digital banking and operations group and Jason Jan G. Ngo, 7-Eleven Philippines head of information technology division (extreme right) at the Banking, Finance, and Retail discussion of the Asia IoT Business Platform Manila leg on April 27 at the Manila Marriott Hotel. Joining them in the panel are (from left) Patrick Liao, associate vice president of Acer Cloud Technology and Arun Pai, chief investment officer of Kristal.AI

This was shared by Margarita B. Lopez, RCBC senior vice president and head of digital banking and operations group during the Banking, Finance, and Retail session of the Asia IoT Business Platform Manila leg held on April 27 at the Manila Marriott Hotel.

Lopez said that RCBC has launched an educational campaign to make Filipinos more aware and informed about securing and managing their finances. In particular, the banking institution produces vlogs teaching viewers how to wisely use their prepaid cards and credit cards.

They also have an Facebook page where they run an Facebook live series featuring RCBC employees talking about payment options, access to investments, and other financial matters.

“At first it wasn’t very evident that people were using [these]. All we’ve seen before were ATM withdrawals all the time, especially during pay day,” Lopez related.

“But now, in just a few months from the time that we started this educational series, we’ve seen an increase in usage of about 20% for both the debit and prepaid cards. That’s just the first step.”
For the unbanked segment, she said that they’ve put all the friction out of the prepaid card experience “so that people will use it and better protect their money.”

RCBC has also dipped its feet into the digital currency arena by coming up with a digital money product, the first of its kind in Asia.

“It is our Philippine pesos and coins in digitized format, highly secure, can be accessed anytime, anywhere by you alone, via a mobile app and therefore protects your money,” Lopez explained after emphasizing that the product is not at all a cryptocurrency.

“We’re doing that for very specific dense communities that don’t have access to bank branches and ATMs,” she said.

The digital money was also created for the benefit of Filipino farmers to enable them to better deal with their suppliers and millers without worrying how they will handle cash.

Another first in the Philippines is RCBC’s Mobile Point of Sales (MPOS) facility or RCBC Cash Express. Serving as a neighborhood ATM of sorts, the MPOS allows Filipinos to use it for their regular banking transactions, aside from withdrawals, without going to an actual bank branch.

Available in sari sari stores and other places of convenience, Lopez noted that these facilities are especially beneficial to those living in remote areas with no access to any RCBC branch.

“We don’t see that we need to have a branch at every city,” said Lopez. “At some point it will not be effective because people don’t want to go to a branch but they do hang out in a kiosk, in a store, even a sari sari store.”

Meanwhile, 7-Eleven Philippines is set to join the beeline for cashless technologies as well.

“We’ve started bringing out a cashless solution in our own business,” said Jason Jan G. Ngo, head of 7-Eleven’s information technology division. “Adoption rates have reached 25% in some stores but overall, it isn’t really high, but we expect to move forward as we go on.”

However, Ngo admitted that with investments from abroad pouring in to fund innovations for cashless transactions in the Philippines, he expects going cashless to happen very soon.

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