Bangko-Sentral-Ng-Pilipinas3MANILA (Mabuhay) – Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is implementing a measure that will encourage banks to expand to the countryside.

In an emailed statement, the central bank said the Monetary Board recently approved a regulation that waives processing fees for establishing branches in unbanked areas and an expanded scope of activities for micro-banking offices (MBOs).

MBOs are scaled-down bank branches that enable banks to establish presence at a relatively lower cost.

To facilitate the flow of information, the central bank said it will post on its website the list of unbanked municipalities. The list would be updated quarterly.

Bangko Sentral data showed 36.5 percent of the 1,634 cities and municipalities are unbanked as banks prefer to establish presence only in higher-income and more populated areas considering the cost of operating and setting up banking offices.

There are 508 operating MBOs serving 325 municipalities, of which 62 municipalities are served by MBOs alone.

Together with the revised rule on branch processing fees, the new regulation widens the scope of allowable activities and services that MBOs can provide.

In addition to the disbursement and release of proceeds of all types of microfinance loans, MBOs can now provide and service other types of loans to microfinance clients such as health, emergency and educational loans.

Interested banks may apply for approval to increase the limit for the monthly average daily balance of micro-deposit accounts from a maximum of P40,000, subject to certain requirements.

The expanded service will still primarily cater to the needs of the microfinance clients and the prudential requirements and operational controls will be retained. (MNS)