Cebuana Lhuillier’s rural bank records increase in savings account openings

CEBUANA LHUILLIER Rural Bank, Inc. saw its Micro Savings accountholders jump to more than five million Filipinos since its launch in 2019 after it added features for digital transactions.

The banking arm of microfinancial services giant Cebuana Lhuillier said more clients applied for its Micro Savings account in December last year after features such as cashless payments, mobile applications, access to automated teller machines (ATMs) through BancNet, and the use of QR codes, were introduced.

“We are elated that there are more and more Filipinos every day who are realizing the importance of saving and are taking charge of their future. It is very exciting that these 5 million Micro Savings account holders are not only on the first step to financial wellness, but because of our amped up product, are also Financially Mobile individuals,” Cebuana Lhuillier President and Chief Executive Officer Jean Henri D. Lhuillier said in a press release on Thursday.

The rural bank said the savings account was introduced in February 2019 as a basic deposit account that streamlines the documentary requirements needed to open an account. It does not require a maintaining balance or apply dormancy charges.

The account was initially available in Cebuanna Lhuillier’s 2,500 branches nationwide, but access was expanded through BancNet’s network of 21,000 ATMs and 114 member banks.

Its tie-up with global payments network UnionPay also allowed clients to make debit payments through 350,000 point of sale terminals and partner businesses.

Cebuana Lhuillier Rural Bank’s mobile application “eCebuana” likewise facilitates digital money transfer via Instapay and other online payment transactions such as settling bills and buying load. It also includes QR codes for faster transactions, it said.

The coronavirus pandemic and mobility restrictions enforced to curb the spread of the virus prompted a massive shift to online transactions and digital payments.

The volume of PESONet transfers surged by 376% from a year ago to 15.3 million in 2020, while the value nearly tripled to P951 billion, according to central bank data. Meanwhile, the InstaPay transactions climbed by 459% to 86.7 million year on year, for a total amount of P463 billion, up 340%.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas wants 50% of transactions done digitally by 2023. — B.M. Laforg

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