Not Quite Passé | Balancing passbook benefits with convenience of digital banking

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Banks have made the digital move — but there are still some people who are holding on to passbooks. About 21% of BPI’s clients still keep passbook accounts. 

The typical passbook holders are either very young kids whose parents still supervise their accounts or older users who can’t be bothered to learn new tricks. However, there are also clients who use their passbooks in tandem with BPI’s digital tools. 

Ed, a retired government employee, is in his 70s, remains a fan of the passbook. “For me, I am assured that my money is safe when I use my passbook,” he explains. “It has the bulk of my savings from my pension and I prefer not to have easy access to it so it won’t be spent on impulse buys. I get money from my passbook account for the big expenses, like when I had to have our roof repaired or decided to have a guest room constructed.”

But Ed isn’t averse to digital banking either. “Of course, I also have a savings account with an ATM. I appreciate the convenience of having easy access to the money that I allow myself to spend. That’s where I get the money for my weekly outing with my grandkids or when I feel like buying my dogs some new toys,” he says. 

Like Ed, Florencia, 65, has both a passbook and an ATM card. “But it’s for the same account,” she says. “I just feel more secure when the ATM is supplemented by a passbook. Para walang gulo, isa na lang ’yung account na mine-maintain ko. If things get confusing, I have my nieces to explain things to me.”

For her part, Jane, 54, keeps a Passbook Savings Account but also has an Express Teller Account with an ATM. “My ATM account is the one that is connected to BPI Online and the BPI Mobile Banking App,” she said. “The money in my passbook contains my savings. This is money that I’m not supposed to touch unless it’s for emergencies. I make sure I live within my budget with the cash that’s in my ATM.”

Kyle, 23, is a digital native, but he wants to hold on to a passbook. “My parents opened an account for me back when I was a kid. Naka-passbook ’yun. Until now, there’s money in it. The rest of my accounts are all ATM accounts. I got issued one at work for our payroll and then I have my own ATM where I stash the cash that I’ll be spending for things like paying bills and for going out. This is the same account that I use for online and mobile transactions. It’s really very convenient. I place a little bit of cash into my passbook account every month. Kahit P300, basta meron akong mailagay. Eventually, I’ll be able to put in more when my salary increases.”

Based on the experiences of Ed, Florencia, Jane, and Kyle we’ve listed the top 3 advantages of having a passbook and supplementing it with digital banking:

  1. It tracks transactions. Having something that actually tallies the deposits and withdrawals made in their account made people (especially the seniors) feel more secure about the money they had in the bank. “I started saving in a bank back in the 1970s and passbooks were used back then. It’s hard to shake off the habit,” explained Ed. “I guess the only thing that’s challenging with a passbook is that you have to visit the bank to get things done. But that’s something I can live with. I’m retired anyway, so I have the time to go to the bank anytime I choose. But I’m also thankful for the ATM. It’s very convenient because you have access to cash practically anytime.”
  2. It keeps things organized. Having a passbook makes it easier for people to compartmentalize their cash. They avoid spending what’s in their passbook account for impulse buys. Meanwhile, the ATM account becomes the one used for everyday expenses.
  3. It keeps savings intact. With a passbook account, people say they can control their spending better and won’t be tempted to withdraw cash for non-essential items. “When I was younger, I used to spend all my money on bags,” relates Florencia. “To curb my bag addiction, I opened a passbook account. Now, I just withdraw from my passbook once a month. Enough to cover my monthly expenses. Saving for a rainy day always works. I know I have money if ever there are emergencies. But I’m interested in mobile banking. I’ll have one of my nieces explain that to me. Nakakatuwa rin yung pwede magbayad ng bills using your phone.”

In any case, BPI customers can actually register their passbook-based BPI account on BPI Online. This way, in case they are not able to physically go to the bank (due to health issues, difficulty in mobility, or bad weather), they can still check their balance using their passbook account. 

Overall, it’s still a good idea to keep a passbook. It’s even better if it’s supplemented by easily accessible or access-anywhere platforms. After all, you can still embrace new ways even as you stay loyal to the old ones.

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