21 May 2019 – To promote financial inclusion and the importance of digital financial services, from 20-21 May the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) held its 66th Annual National Convention in Baguio City. Leaders of Rural Banks, financial regulators, and leading international companies assembled at this year’s Convention to explore new ways to reach unbanked individuals in rural communities through digital strategies.
Rural Banks act as pivotal players in remote areas where large commercial banks have little to no presence, continuously championing financial inclusion in the Philippines. Speakers at this year’s RBAP Convention demonstrated how technological advances and product innovations need to be taken into consideration in order to equip Rural Banks for the future. The overall adoption of digital financial services is democratizing the banking sector.
Earlier in 2019, Cantilan Bank, one of the largest Rural Banks in the Philippines, became the first financial institution regulated by the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas (BSP) to pioneer cloud-based technology. The BSP had Cantilan Bank in a ‘test-and-learn’ sandbox environment for 18 months, while the Rural Bank’s digital transformation was supported by the Asian Development Bank. Cantilan chose Oradian, a Software-as-a-Service company that serves over 45 financial institutions in the Philippines, as their strategic partner and technology provider.
Numerous financial institutions in the Philippines are moving their core banking operations to cloud-based systems to reach and serve their most remote clients. Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI) serves more than 74,000 clients through 60 branches. When looking for a new core banking platform, ASHI prioritised access to real-time data and the ability to generate accurate reports. In 2017, ASHI migrated their entire operations to Instafin, Oradian’s cloud-based core banking platform. Before the end of 2018, ASHI had not only digitalised all its branches, but opened eight new branches using the platform.
“Our field officers have more time for our clients now. Before, they found it difficult to balance the daily collection, but now, they don’t need to spend time computing using a calculator. When our field staff simply opens Instafin Field Officer App, all the data is already there. ASHI has found that field officers save 70% of time spent on collections and our office staff saves 90% of their typical data input time. This leads to tremendous cost savings and opportunity for growth.,” explained Estrella Andres, Vice President of ASHI.
“In any industry, change is inevitable. Cantilan Bank saw transitioning to a cloud-based platform as the only way forward to ensure maximum business efficiency and growth. Oradian’s platform enabled us to tap into global best practices in digital financial services. We moved our operations to the cloud to save time, enhance the security of our data, and be able to provide more clients with financial services. Technology is speeding up our operations and improving our portfolio. Oradian isn’t an IT vendor or a solutions provider to us, they continue to walk by our side each step of the way.” said Tanya Hotchkiss, CTO of Cantilan Bank.
During the presentation held at the Convention, Charles Hotchkiss, President of Cantilan Bank commented how they pioneered the use of a cloud-based core banking system: “Digital technology is rapidly transforming the financial sector as we know it. The expected impact of digital financial services on financial inclusion is immense. As a Rural Bank operating in the Mindanao region, Cantilan Bank decided to adopt a strategy that would ensure our competitiveness in the areas where we operate. To do so, we needed technology that would be future-facing.”
“Oradian is proud to be the best in class provider of a cloud-based core banking system to a regulated Rural Bank. We will continue to strive to offer more than software by nurturing our community and acting as a partner with Rural Banks to facilitate their digital transformations.” Agustin Santiago, Managing Director of Oradian in the Philippines.
Dr. Armando B. Bonifacio, president of Rural Bankers Association of the Phillippines stated on RBAP’s website: “In achieving our goal to strengthen the rural banking system, let’s be mindful of the need to be in step with technology, client preferences and expectations for product innovations. Charting our course for the future require concrete and high impact measures and strategies to survive the competition. This ensures that we serve our clients better and improve their financial access throughout the country.’’
RBAP has enabled Rural Banks in the Philippines to share global best practices in banking, addressing pressing industry matters and tightening the community in the effort to move forward on the national financial inclusion mission.