BPI now on ‘inflection point’ as digital transactions hit 92%

The 168-year-old Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) said it is on an “inflection point” towards massive sea-change with digital transactions now far outstripping traditional branch transactions.  

Shown during BPI’s first-ever press briefing via virtual conference are (from left) Juan Carlos L. Syquia, head of corporate banking; Maria Theresa Marcial Javier, chief finance officer; Cezar P. Consing, president and CEO; Ramon L. Jocson, chief operating officer; and Marie Josephine M. Ocampo, head of mass retail

During its online press briefing that followed after its virtual annual stockholders meeting on Thursday, April 23, top executives said the Covid-19 pandemic has hastened the Ayala-owned bank’s digital transformation.

BPI president and CEO Cezar “Bong” Consing revealed that during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), 92 percent of all of the bank’s transactions were done outside branch premises, a significant jump from 72 percent pre-ECQ, reflecting an accelerating shift to digital banking.

“Only 8% of our transactions were executed over-the-counter in our branches. It is clear to us that the ECQ [has indicated] a very strong inflection point in how people access and use their devices,” Consing said.

The BPI chief executive said the Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of being able to access and transact digitally. “And that is why we will continue what has been a three-year digitalization journey, and continue to invest in technology,” he said.

Consing noted that even before the occurrence of the coronavirus pandemic, BPI had already made digitalization a major cornerstone of its strategy in the past few years with the goal of accelerating its digital banking initiatives.

“Digitalization helps reduce our cost to serve and facilitates banking access and transactions, thereby fostering financial inclusion and sustainability in our operations,” he said.

Consing said online transactions, which in 2019 were up by 50 percent, accounted for practically all of the growth in the bank’s transaction count. “About 40 percent of the bank’s customers are now enrolled in one or more of our digital channels, with 25 percent of all customers being regular digital transactors,” he said.

He also noted the value of BPI’s data science team, which mines the company’s wealth of data to come up with improvements in policies and processes that allow the bank to be nimbler in seizing opportunities.

During the stockholders meeting, bank officials also disclosed a partnership with pawnshop operator Palawan Express to allow BPI mobile app users to send cash to their loved ones who can then pick it up in any Palawan Express outlet.

Ramon L. Jocson, chief operating officer of BPI, said the bank had the necessary technology and infrastructure to readily roll out the new offering as it has already gone through three years of digital transformation.

“We didn’t introduce new technologies for this new service. What we introduced are new offerings based on what we see. We do analytics and we take a look at what’s the requirement and we saw that there were a lot of domestic remittances. So, we fast-tracked it and now we have this offering on Palawan,” Jocson.

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