PBCom looks at agency bank­ing, small branches

Business World - - Banking & Finance - By Karl An­gelo N. Vi­dal Re­porter

PHILIP­PINE Bank of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions (PBCom) is eye­ing to open branch-lite units and de­ploy cash agents as it max­i­mizes its syn­ergy with the Pure­gold net­work.

In an in­ter­view, PBCom Pres­i­dent and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Pa­tri­cia May T. Siy said the Co-led lender will fo­cus on its ecosys­tem as it aims to in­crease its pres­ence to more ar­eas.

“As we said, we’ll fo­cus on the ecosys­tem right now... For us, it’s re­ally more of pres­ence and likely within the Pure­gold net­work,” Ms. Siy told Busi­ness­World fol­low­ing the list­ing cer­e­mony of the bank’s long-term ne­go­tiable cer­tifi­cates of time de­posit on Mon­day.

She added that PBCom in­tends to “take ad­van­tage” the cen­tral bank’s guide­lines which al­low lenders to open smaller branches and de­ploy cash agents.

“[Our new branches] could be a per­ma­nent pres­ence or just a tem­po­rary pres­ence which the cur­rent agency bank­ing al­lows.”

In Jan­uary 2017, BSP is­sued reg­u­la­tions which al­low clients to with­draw and de­posit cash, ac­cess on­line self-ser­vice de­posits, fund trans­fers as well as bills pay­ment through cash agents em­ployed by the banks.

Aside from this, Ms. Siy added that part of its long-term strat­egy is to put up more branches across the Pure­gold net­work of su­per­mar­kets, some of which could be branch-lite units.

“Even­tu­ally the plan is to [place branch-lite units] in as many [ar­eas], but not this year,” she said.

Branch-lite of­fices are branches that are more com­pact and less for­mal com­pared with the typ­i­cal full-ser­vice bank branch, which can be placed in un­banked or un­der­served towns and cities.

“That’s al­ready part of the long-term plan so there will be a deployment strat­egy,” Ms. Siy added, re­fer­ring to the es­tab­lish­ment of branch-lite of­fices.

In 2014, re­tail ty­coon Lu­cio L. Co bought a stake in PBCom for nearly P6 bil­lion, mak­ing Pure­gold the bank’s big­gest sin­gle share­holder.

PBCom posted a P146.3-mil­lion net in­come in the se­cond quar­ter, de­clin­ing by 20% from the P183.8 mil­lion tal­lied a year ago.

The listed lender, the 20th big­gest in the in­dus­try in as­set terms, is cur­rently li­censed as a com­mer­cial lender and had a net­work of 89 branches and 147 au­to­mated teller ma­chines as of end-June.

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