Personalized (rural) banking

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For the past six decades, the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) has stood as a foundation of countryside development, exemplifying an industry-wide mindset of “personalized banking” service to its customers.

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As it marks its 60th anniversary highlighted by the observance of the Rural Banking Consciousness Week with the theme, “60 Years of Personalized Banking for Everyone, Nationwide,” RBAP works closely with its member-banks to cater to the banking needs of the communities they operate in. With this, member-banks improve the livelihood of farmers, fisher folk, small and micro enterprises and other members of the rural poor by providing them access to banking services they would not otherwise get from bigger banks.

Speaking of the bigger universal and commercial banks, what makes rural banks unique and inherently better is their more personal approach when dealing with their clientele.

By design, rural banks operate very closely with their customers because they are situated right where their markets are—the rural communities. This proximity has led to familiarity with the living conditions and hardships of rural families. In turn, this familiarity has translated to better responsiveness to the needs of the rural market.

This has been the familiar theme for the last 60 years. Thus, when clients transact with a rural bank, it does not feel like a typical service provider-client relationship, but rather something far more personal than that.

Nonetheless, member-banks have maintained utmost professionalism throughout, never surrendering the business culture they have strived hard to maintain.

The result of this hybrid approach is providing a corporate banking service with a personal touch. It is not uncommon for a client to walk into a rural bank branch and then be greeted warmly by the bank executive and staff, pleasantries and “how-is-your-mother” type of greetings are then exchanged. After all that, it will be down to business.

Rural banking is a unique animal, so to speak. It is an epitome of personalized, one-on-one banking: the clients know the tellers, and the tellers know the clients and their families. By knowing their clients personally, rural banks easily respond to their clients’ needs and assess their credit standing, as well as keep their clients’ loyalty.

This personalized business approach also enables senior citizens to easily access banking services. In rural banks, the minute a senior citizen comes in, they are prioritized and everyone understands it.

While a premium has been put on their personable treatment of clients, RBAP member-banks have likewise emphasized on keeping themselves up-to-date with the latest banking technologies to continuously improve their products and services. Aside from deploying automated teller machines (ATMs), a number of rural banks have existing arrangements with wire transfer services—as the industry continues to encourage families and beneficiaries of overseas Filipino workers in their communities to save their money in the bank—and adopted mobile banking to provide banking and microfinance services to their customers, among others.

Rural banks also continue to address other challenges in the industry such as their compliance with the Agri-Agra Law, which requires them to allot at least 25 percent of their total loanable funds for agriculture and fisheries credit and other regulations.

For the last 60 years and moving forward, RBAP assures its clients that its members can be, in more ways than one, banked on.

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