IN a bid to prepare rural banks for the impact of global developments, the Confederation of South Central Mindanao Rural Bankers Association (CSCMRBA) will be conducting the 2014 Annual Mindanao Credit Conference with the theme, “Equipping Rural Banks: The Rising Economic Challenges of Global Banking and Community Integration.”
While the theme underlines the forward-looking mindset of rural banks, the conference—to be held on October 2-3, 2014 at the Phela Grande Convention Center in General Santos City—is part of the campaign to embolden the industry amid challenges in the current business landscape and other impending external developments, such as the economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in 2015.
For this year’s event, the South Central Mindanao Confederation invited regulators and economic managers to discuss the opportunities and hurdles posed by the economic integration, as well as the possible strategies for rural banks to reinforce their relevance in the lives of low-income Filipinos.
The Asean economic integration seeks to create a single market and production base that will facilitate the free flow of goods, services and investments among the 10-member bloc. In anticipation of this regional development, the government has begun implementing policies that will open up the country for foreign business entry. Recently signed into law was Republic Act 10641, or “An Act Allowing the Full Entry of Foreign Banks in the Philippines,” which allows foreign banks to own up to 100 percent of the voting stock of domestic banks.
Although the smaller banks are not expected to be directly affected by this development, such integration will likely prompt the big local banks to explore and tap other markets, including the countryside where most rural banks operate. This wave of new competition is enough reason for rural banks to beef up, both in terms of scale and quality of service.
The Confederation also invited distinguished guests to share their knowledge about the latest innovations and technologies in banking that rural banks may adopt and use as a tool to improve the quality of their service. Among others, a forum will be conducted to orient participating rural banks on the system installation and configuration of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Philippine Payments and Settlements System (PhilPaSS).
PhilPaSS is a system that seeks to provide overseas Filipinos a faster, safer and cheaper remittance channel. Rural banks have been eyeing to maximize the said BSP facility as a means to boost their money remittance services. Central bank data showed that money sent home by Filipinos abroad rose 6 percent year-on-year to $2.063 billion in July.