Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–China Bank Savings (CBS), the thrift banking arm of China Banking Corp., has entered the domestic cash transfer business in partnership with leading pawnshop chain Cebuana Lhuillier.
The entry into this local remittance business seeks not only to grow CBS’ fee-based business but use the local remittance firm as a platform to encourage more clients—especially those from lower-income households who are otherwise hesitant to use formal banking channels—to open bank accounts.
Under CBS’ “Easi-Padala” domestic money transfer service, CBS account holders can send money through any of its 74 branches based on a fee structure which is estimated to be up to 30 percent cheaper compared to other remittance channel providers.
The fees are in line with Cebuana Lhuillier’s remittance fees. For P1,000 worth of remittance, a P50 fee is charged while for P5,000, the fee is P220. The minimum remittance amount is P100, which will carry a fee of P7.
The CBS branches, which are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, will transfer funds electronically on real-time basis. The remittance can be claimed at any of Cebuana Lhuillier’s over 1,700 branches all over the Philippines.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, CBS president Alberto Emilio Ramos said the thrift bank decided to enter this business after seeing demand from first-time depositors enlisted by its mini-branches opened in the SM group’s grocery chain SaveMore. Ramos said 30 percent of new depositors enlisted through SaveMore were first-time depositors.
“The unbanked will become our client,” added CBS chair Ricardo Chua, who said that if CBS would get a customer who’s still “struggling,” this customer would likely stay with CBS through other stages of life and even when he could already afford to buy a house or car using bank financing.
Non-CBS account holders can send money through “Easi-Padala” by opening a CBS account like “Easi-Save Basic,” a no-fuss, zero-opening and zero-maintaining balance ATM account with simple account opening procedures. CBS also offers other deposit accounts with other features.
Ramos said this new service could help boost CBS’ deposit accounts by 5-10 percent for this year alone. About 2,000 transactions are expected on a monthly basis during the initial months of offering this service.
Noel Cristal, general manager of Cebuana Lhuillier Services Corp., said the group’s main thrust for over 25 years was to bring financial services to more Filipinos, taking mass-based financial inclusion as its mission.–Doris C. Dumlao