Inquiries and requests for credit score information increased significantly during the pandemic as more people apply for loans to help them cope with the crisis.
Aileen Amor-Bautista, Credit Information Corporation (CIC) officer-in-charge, said inquiries for credit information were only about 10 a week before the pandemic.
“Now, we are getting around 500 applications in a week,” she said in a briefing hosted by Home Credit on Wednesday, Oct. 22.
Bautista said Filipinos can now request credit score data through online application amid the movement restrictions set by the government as part of the measures to address the rise of Covid-19 infections.
The online application form can be downloaded through the credit reporting agency’s website for Web users and through this app for mobile gadgets. Bautista said a P235 fee is being charged on the credit score report.
She said having a credit report and a financial footprint “is something that is powerful”. “So let’s be empowered by getting the information about us submitted by our lenders and make sure that it is updated. Make sure they file for the necessary correction,” she said.
In the same briefing, Home Credit chief marketing officer Sheila Paul underscored the need for updated credit information, especially now that people can apply for loans digitally.
Paul said digital is now “the way to go” since technology allows entities to reach more people, and is a big boost to the bid towards financial education and literacy.
“Digital is the new normal — and financial institutions like Home Credit are fully and quickly embracing digital technologies to reach more people and cater to the public’s ever-changing needs,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Prague-based in-store financing company currently has seven million customers in the country since it started its domestic operations in 2013.
Paul said 2.2 million of these customers are active monthly users of the company’s mobile application, My Home Credit.
“The pandemic has intensified the demand for online and mobile financial solutions, and we don’t see this slowing down anytime soon,” she said.
Paul said their customers can now apply for loans through the mobile app and pay through several modes, including the company’s quick response (QR)-enabled credit card and online payment channels.
Asked on payment defaults during the pandemic, Paul said they do not consider the delay in the payments of loans as defaults “because they were able to avail of the grace period” provided under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that allows for a 30-day grace period for the payment of loans falling due within the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and to be extended in line with the ECQ extension.
The grace period was extended to 60 days under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 law. This covers principal loans and interest, penalties, fees, and other charges.
“I guess it’s not yet normal now and we’re treating it in the same way. What we’re going is making sure that we are extending the help that our customers need,” she added. — Joann Villanueva (PNA)