Throughout the year, the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines and the rest of the banking industry focused on the importance of financial accessibility in line with central bank’s initiatives toward an efficient access to financial products.
The Philippines, just recently, was named by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) as one of the world’s best countries with financial inclusion initiatives.
Out of the highest possible score of 100 across 12 indicators, the country scored 81, according to EIU report, “The Global Microscope 2015: The enabling environment for financial inclusion.”
In July, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas launched the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion, a government action plan that aims to enhance cooperation between and among ministries, government agencies and the private sector to improve access to financial services.
For its part, the RBAP was tasked to come up with a strategy on Financial Education and Consumer Protection and Advocacy Programs.
In response, the association and its technical arm the Rural Bankers Research and Development Foundation Inc. conducted trainings and seminars on financial consumer protection and other BSP-issued regulations for member banks.
The financial consumer protection training encompasses a workshop designed to help participating banks prepare financial consumer protection manuals and audit and compliance programs.
During the first half of the year, the Foundation also conducted a series of roadshows in various provinces to introduce sound credit risk management. The 14 runs covered almost 300 rural banks.
RBAP further expressed its support for the roll out of a national retail payment system, an integral part of the financial inclusion strategy, aimed at establishing a platform for an e-payments system.
“The rural banking industry shares the same vision and advocacy with the Bangko Sentral in attaining financial inclusion through the National Retail Payment System,” RBAP executive director Vicente Mendoza said when the NRPS framework was launched.
Through the NRPS, Mendoza noted the rural banking industry will not only be able to “empower… government and other institutions, but most importantly… financially include clients in the countryside to seamlessly transact at reduced costs with other service providers that are part of the system.”
Formally launched by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on December 9, the NRPS is a framework that will guide the banking industry toward establishing a safe, efficient, and reliable platform for an e-payments system that is interconnected and interoperable.