opinion

Reaching out to the “unbanked” (First of Two Parts)

December 28, 2012

 From 2009 to 2012, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Annual Global Microfinance Index has ranked the Philippines as number one in the world in terms of policy and regulatory framework for microfinance.          The global survey looks at the microfinance business environment of 55 countries.          The Philippines is also consistently ranked at the top ten for having a good microfinance business environment, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) 2012 Report on its Financial Inclusion Initiatives.          The survey took note of the Philippines’ recorded material gains in transparency in pricing given the BSP’s issuance of improved rules on transparency and disclosure.          The survey also considered the initiative of the microfinance industry to establish the Microfinance Data Sharing System (MiDaS), a microfinance credit bureau that identifies delinquent borrowers with the ultimate objective of client rehabilitation.          “The Report on BSP Financial Inclusion Initiatives showcases the year 2012 as one that was characterized by the mainstreaming of financial inclusion in the domestic and international agenda in light of the growing recognition of the importance of financial inclusion as a policy objective,” BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said.          Espenilla added, “The Bangko Sentral has been at the forefront of global financial inclusion initiatives by continuously promoting and establishing an enabling policy and regulatory environment to increase access to financial services for all.”          The BSP Report noted that in the past years, the country’s central monetary authority has undertaken various initiatives toward financial inclusion, which include the issuance of regulations and the implementation of measures that expand access to finance, ensure customer protection, and promote financial education.          In 2012, enhancements to existing regulations and the creation of new issuances further improved the regulatory environment for financial inclusion.          The BSP has undertaken the following policy and regulatory actions to promote financial inclusion: •           Widened range of products: Microdeposits; Microenterprise Loan; Microfinance Plus for Emerging SMEs; Micro-agri Loans; Housing Microfinance; Microinsurance. •           Expanded physical network: Liberalized Branching; Micro-Banking Offices. •           Expanded virtual reach: E-money issuers; E-money Network Service Providers; Allowed Technology-driven Innovative Business Models. •           Liberalized customer on-boarding: Updated Anti-Money Laundering Rules and Regulations; Outsourcing Rules. •           Established framework for consumer protection: Enhanced Implementation of Truth in Lending Act; Adopted Market Conduct Regulation; Institutionalized the Financial Consumer Affairs Group.   (To be continued next week)

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