Building micro-entrepreneurs’ resilience in a digital world

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One of the primary goals of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) is to push for financial inclusion among underserved sectors in the country. To achieve this, its subsidiary BPI Direct BanKo (BanKo) reaches out to Filipino self-employed micro-entrepreneurs (SEMEs) and provides them with accessible and affordable banking services.

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Bank services for all

BPI Direct BanKo, Inc., (BanKo), a wholly owned subsidiary of BPI, is the product of a merger between two specialized thrift banks: BPI Direct Savings Bank (the Philippines’ first Internet bank), and BPI Globe BanKO (the country’s first mobile savings bank).

BanKo’s mission to make banking services more accessible to the unserved and underserved Filipinos.

The Bank primarily serves self-employed micro entrepreneurs (SEMEs) by providing them with affordable and appropriate financial services, and empowering them with expert financial advice and solutions that promote the growth and expansion of their enterprises.

Helping small biz

BanKo is known for its NegosyoKo Loan, which enables SEMEs to avail of a P25,000 to P300,000 loan for additional working capital or business expansion requirements. Requirements are simple, and there are flexible payment terms and options, from six months up to three years.

Since the debut of its NegosyoKo Loan in 2016, BanKo has already served more than 145,000 Filipino clients, which translates to P18 billion in loans.

With the travel restrictions brought about by COVID-19 lockdowns, BanKo encouraged its clients to go digital and access their accounts from the safety of their homes via the BanKo Mobile.

Rod Mabiasen Jr., BanKo’s head of Financial Inclusion and Microfinance Solutions, urged customers to go digital amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

He explained: “We are innovating in the midst of the pandemic for the sake of our clients. Our goal is to continue guiding them and helping them adapt to the new normal through this easy, hassle-free mobile banking initiative.” 

With the BanKo Mobile App, borrowers can monitor their loan balances and payment history, as well as make loan payments through the app, in the comfort and safety of their homes or stores. 

During the challenging early days of the pandemic, BanKo loans associates called BanKoPares and BanKoMares continued to check their clients’ situation and advised them on ways to sustain their business.

Mabiasen said: “BanKo remains open and ready to help our SEMEs rise up and recover from this difficult period. As their partner, BanKo will continue to listen to them and innovate so that we can all come out of this pandemic stronger.”

No-fuss, no-pressure savings account

BanKo’s clients get more digital options when they open a PondoKo savings account, which only requires an initial deposit of at least P50 and no maintaining balance. With this account, they can access the BanKo Mobile App, and make cashless and convenient transactions such as send money, pay bills, and buy load.

PondoKo Savings account users can deposit or withdraw through any of over 1,000  BanKo Cash Agents. 

Inclusion is the key

With these innovations, BPI is maximizing the use of digital tools in its mission of ensuring financial inclusion. In this case, it’s even more critical because the target market are people who serve as the backbone of local economic activity, those who are most in need of support to stay afloat as Covid-19 continues to agitate the waters of economic growth.

The BanKo mobile app is already live on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

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