By Edd K. Usman
With the insatiable demand of Filipinos for shiny new gadgets, a financing firm is keeping “an optimistic outlook? for the Philippines even as it expands its reach around the country.
Home Credit Philippines (HCP), under new chief executive Annica Witschard, is targeting to reach a half-a-million customer base by end of 2016.
The company, which set up shop in the country in 2013 with P2 billion in investment, is buoyed by the receptive response of Filipinos who use its offerings to buy mostly electronic gadgets and home appliances.
Last year, customers who availed installment financing from Home Credit bought 210,000 units of mobile phones and tablets, 28,000 units of flat TVs, and 11,000 units of refrigerators and chillers. A big number also purchased laptops, air conditioners, and laundry machines.
“It is great to be here in the Philippines. The economy is good and rapidly growing,” said Witschard, a native of Stockholm, Sweden.
Dmitry Borisenko, head of public relations of Home Credit, explained that the company “provides installment plans? to people who were left out by traditional financing institutions like banks.
“If a customer comes to a retailer store and does not want to pay the full amount for his purchase, we are ready to finance it. We will get him an installment plan and he will pay in installments,” he said.
Borisenko added: “You just approach our representatives who are wearing red t-shirts in our partner retailer stores.? He said, however, that one needs to be employed to avail of the loan.
HCP is part of Home Credit B.V. (HCBV), an international consumer finance provider founded in 1997 at the Czech Republic. It currently operates in 11 countries around the world.
Witschard said Home Credit is not merely in the business of helping Filipinos acquire gadgets and appliances, saying her company has a more profound role to play in the finance sector.
“A huge majority of Filipinos still have little to no access to financial tools and services, which can have a profound impact on how they live and enjoy their lives. We want to change that,” she said.
“That is why even first-time borrowers are eligible to apply for Home Credit financing. A loan approval then opens the doors for getting a credit history, and ultimately being included in the financial system,” she pointed out.
Around 90 percent of Home Credit’s customers are first-time borrowers, according to Home Credit Philippines media relations director Jerome Mangahas.
The company noted that more than half of its 280,000 customers in the Philippines are new customers, having availed of a loan in the last nine months from its 220 merchant-partners around the country.
Witschard, who briefed the local media at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City recently, said they were encouraged by the positive response they received from local consumers.
“Our growth, in terms of number of areas reached and number of customers served, has been encouraging, considering we have only been in the market for less than five years,” the lady executive said.
She said the company is confident of the potential of a market with tens of millions people.
“But this is only the beginning. With a 100-million strong population, the Philippine market has huge potential, and that is why we are rapidly increasing our presence outside the metro. Given what we were able to achieve over the last nine months, we are determined to see even more remarkable results,” said Witschard.
Home Credit entered the Philippine market in 2013, servicing Metro Manila initially. It soon expanded to other areas in Luzon. The first semester of 2016 saw the company planting its roots in Cebu City, with Pampanga, Batangas, and Cabanatuan City following suit. To date, the company operates in 12 of the country’s provinces.