BPI to open more new, refurbished branches

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BANK of the Philippine Islands (BPI) is looking into opening new and refurbished branches as it ramps up its presence across the country.

At the opening of a new branch in Makati on Tuesday, BPI retail banking head Joseph Albert A. Gotuaco said the Ayala-led bank is looking to add nine new branches until the end of the year and 17 more in 2018, which will add to its current 841 branches.

“Yes we are [looking to open more branches.] I could see us adding another 20 to 30,” Mr. Gotuaco said.

“The central bank has given us permission to go up about almost 50 to 60 branches so we would use up all the licenses pretty soon between this year and next year.”

However, Mr. Gotuaco noted that the lender is more inclined to refurbish more branches to refresh the bank’s branding.

“What we focus on a lot that is quite different from our competition is that we are refurbishing quite a few branches… This is quite unique for us because we’re not seen as open, bright and modern. People think of us as 166-year-old [bank], but here it’s fresh and bright,” he noted.

On Tuesday, the bank started this as they opened a new flagship branch at the Insular Life building in Makati.

The 680-square meter branch situated along Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas will complement other branches nearby. BPI also intends to cascade the new design to three to four branches in the Makati central business district.

The Insular Life branch features lounges for preferred customers, safety deposit boxes, as well as trusted advice corners where clients can course their queries.

“We are continually enhancing our customers’ banking experience and developing innovative products and services that cater to their needs,” BPI President Cezar P. Consing said in a statement.

“It is not only about expanding our branch footprint, but also about offering what our customers need, and being present where our customers need us to be.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Gotuaco said the third biggest bank in asset terms remains committed to shield customers against cyber attacks.

We’re very sensitive to the protection of our customers. We spend a lot on security, we monitor the incidents of security and frankly, we’re quite pleased with the relative safety that [we have],” Mr. Gotuaco noted.

He added that BPI has advanced information on how other banks are attacked by hackers, giving them a head-start in case of an attempt.

“Whether it’s on the ATM (automated teller machine) or in mobile phone or computer, we have advanced information how other banks get attacked. We don’t want to wait for criminals to come here to the Philippines to implement their ideas. We watch that before it comes,” he said. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal

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