BPI Direct BanKo, Inc. (BanKo), the microfinance subsidiary of Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), said it expects to reach 100 branches by October — ahead of the target date — with the bank also poised boost its lending activities.


“In fact, we are earlier than expected. We’re tracking October, in fact, to finish all of [the branches,]” BanKo President Jerome D. Minglana told BusinessWorld in an interview when asked if the bank is on track to end the year with 100 branches.

The lender previously said it plans to end 2017 with a total branch network of 100 in a bid to reach out to more to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector, particularly self-employed micro entrepreneurs (SEMEs).

To date, BanKo has a total of 24 branches situated nationwide. The lender targets to open around 20 new offices per month.

Asked how much the bank shells out in building the new branches, Mr. Minglana declined to give a specific figure, but noted that they have trimmed expenses related to establishing new offices.

“The good thing about this model is it’s not a huge branch so we were able to bring down costs. That’s why we can afford more branches,” he said. “The most I can say for now is it’s not the cost at which BPI builds its branches.”

Its aggressive expansion strategy, the official said, could help the bank achieve loan growth higher than double digits, or even a “ten-fold increase” in terms of volume.

“[We are looking at] a lot more because we only have 10 branches to start with and we’re running after 100 [branches.] So in terms of volume, that itself would give you a ten-fold increase, but of course there’s a ramp-up, but it is a lot more because of the mere footprint that we will be in,” Mr. Minglana said.

“So a lot more in terms of volume and that’s really key for us to be able to reach out to more, the sooner the better,” he added.

To date, the bank has a total of around 870,000 accounts. Mr. Minglana said this total could hit a million by end-2017.

“If our branches deliver as we’ve expected them, yes. But we’ll see,” he said.

BPI formally launched BanKo last July 25. The new microfinance subsidiary was a result of the merger of two of BPI’s thrift bank units namely BPI Direct Savings Bank, Inc. and BPI Globe BanKo. — Janine Marie D. Soliman