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BPI looking to set up BanKo branch in ARMM, 14 others in Mindanao

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VALENCIA, BUKIDNON — Ayala-led Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) is planning to open a branch of its microfinance subsidiary BPI Direct BanKo Inc. (BanKo) within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and 14 other sites in Mindanao.

BPI Retail Banking head Joseph Albert L. Gotuaco, also the chairman and executive vice-president of BanKo, said the ARMM branch would still take time, but it would most likely be tied with the entry of other Ayala companies in the region.

“First of all, it takes time because we can’t just say ‘Hey, we want to go there’. For example, we are very interested in opening in Marawi, that’s pretty daring but siyempre (of course) we have to figure out ways, find location, and hire people,” Mr. Gotuaco said in an interview during the Feb. 27 opening of its BanKo branch in Valencia.

He added that they have to work with other companies in the Ayala Group, such as Ayala Land, Inc., which has already expressed its intent to invest in the ARMM.

In the meantime, BanKo is targeting to open 14 new branches in Mindanao within the year.

The microfinance institution currently has 19 branches in Mindanao out of its nationwide network of 103.

Data provided by BanKo indicates that there are more than 166,00 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Mindanao, the market that it aims to serve.

BanKo currently offers financing to MSMEs from a minimum of P25,000 to P300,000, with no collateral required for loans up to P100,000.

Rodolfo K. Mabiasen Jr., BanKo vice president and head of micro-enterprise loans, said they are looking to increase the no-collateral ceiling to P150,000.

“For P25,000 to P100,000, there is no collateral requirement.We intend to bring that up to P150,000 so that it is easier for those who are availing,” Mr. Mabiasen said.

BanKo has a nationwide customer base of over 10,000 self-employed micro-entrepreneurs (SEMEs), with about P550 million in loans released.

It is eyeing to expand by up to 200 branches nationwide this year to serve 20,000 more SEMEs.

“We see how the Philippine economy is growing… a lot of it is happening in provincial areas and its happening in sectors in the market that are less formal than where BPI Family Bank is today. If you want to build an organization that addresses that market, you have to create a completely different culture of an organization and that is BanKo,” Mr. Gotuaco said. — Maya M. Padillo