BSP eyes easier opening of basic bank accounts

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THE central bank is crafting new regulation that will make it easier for Filipinos to open a basic bank account, to further promote financial inclusion, according to Deputy Governor Nestor Expenilla Jr.

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“We are fast-tracking this basic bank account, because that’s the entry point for the unbanked. It should have low requirements, no fees, no frills. It’s easy to open,” the central bank official said.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is designing the specifics but the idea is to come up with an easier know-your-customer (KYC) procedure, lighter to no fees and no maintaining balance, he said.

BSP 2014 Consumer Finance Survey

“We are also looking at the possibility of not requiring any minimum deposit so it’s easier to open. Those were the basics we want to eliminate, because those were the barriers for the unbanked to enter the banking system,” Espenilla noted.

The BSP is targeting beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program to open their own bank accounts.

“That way, their money will be direct. If you tie it up with NRPS (national retail payment system), the value goes straight to their account,” the central bank official said.

The BSP intends to adopt policies and programs that will help develop a sound, responsive and inclusive financial system to broaden access for the benefit of the underserved and the unbanked segments of the population, he said.

Among the key strategies in the financial inclusion agenda are putting in place banking regulations that leverage on technology to widen access to financial products, as well as strengthening financial consumer protection and raising financial education and awareness to new financial products and modes of delivery.

As much as 86 percent of households in the country not have a deposit account, according to the results of the 2014 Consumer Finance Survey released by the BSP in January.

“This means that only the remaining 14 percent save their money in banks. The foremost reason cited by households for not having a deposit account was not having enough money to keep an account,” the BSP study stated.

Other reasons given by households for not having a bank account were: “do not need a bank/cash account” (2 percent), “bank/institution location is far” (1.7 percent), “cannot manage an account” (1.2 percent), “service charges are too high” (1.0 percent), and other reasons (1.6 percent) such as “the minimum balance is too high,” “do not like to deal with banks/institutions” and “do not trust banks/institutions.”

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