THE COUNTRY’S digital agency banking in 2019 took a leap as transactions ballooned by more than fivefold, fueled by withdrawal transactions of conditional cash transfer beneficiaries.

Data from the Digital Enterprise and Innovation Group of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) showed that transaction count surged by 564% year on year to 1.2 million in 2019.

The total amount of money which went through the system skyrocketed by 521% year on year to P3.3 billion in 2019.

“The strategy behind the exponential growth was based on the recalibration of the business model including the data-driven device distribution in areas with propensity for high transaction volume,” RCBC Executive Vice- President and Chief Innovation Officer Angelito “Lito” M. Villanueva said in a text message to BusinessWorld on Monday.

Among transactions, withdrawals saw the largest growth surge of 610%, followed by fund transfers (226%), cash-in (221%), and bills payment (93%).

More than half (51%) of the withdrawal transactions are made by conditional cash transfer (CCT) beneficiaries. With this, a total of 284,000 CCT beneficiaries have accessed digital agency banking.

Data also showed that the areas with the highest transaction volumes are in Bataan, Aklan, Quezon City, Davao City, and Antique.

Land Bank of the Philippines automated teller machine (ATM) cards were the most frequently used for transactions, the data showed. ATM card users from Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., BDO Unibank, Inc., RCBC, and the Development Bank of the Philippines also rounded up the top five users of digital agency banking.

Despite the 94% successful transaction rate, RCBC noted that 6% of transactions were declined due to insufficient balances.

Mr. Villanueva, who is also the founding chairperson of the Fintech Alliance Philippines, said they are targeting to keep the fivefold growth or over 500% expansion rate of digital agency banking in 2020.

“To further sustain its growth is the onboarding of over 100 rural banks, cooperatives, MFIs (microfinance institutions), pawnshops, and sari-sari stores,” he said.

It was in 2017 when the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas rolled out its guidelines for lenders in conducting agency banking, which taps outlets, groups, or individuals with technology to perform basic banking services including account openings, cash deposits, withdrawals, and even bills payment in far-flung areas where bank branches may be a rarity or are absent. — L.W.T. Noble