Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) has set aside P153 million to hire at least 1,000 contract workers, who will help newly-registered national ID holders open their first bank accounts.

LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo said representatives from the bank will help man the registration centers for the national ID, known formally as the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys). The contract workers will assist registrants without bank accounts in opening one, the Department of Finance (DoF) said in a statement Friday.

The bank will offer its Mastercard prepaid card to unbanked PhilSys registrants for free. The cards can be used to withdraw or transfer funds, and can receive government cash assistance should the ID holders be eligible. They will eventually be usable in contactless fare systems the government is planning to implement.

LANDBANK’s agent banking partners, including cooperatives, associations, small and medium-sized enterprises and other private entities will also help process bank account applications and conduct the mandatory Know-Your-Customer (KYC) data gathering.

Ms. Borromeo said the bank has also teamed up with 136 local government units (LGUs) so far.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has said the 82% of the 10.5 million Filipinos that were pre-registered for the national ID last year did not have bank accounts.

Helping the unbanked open accounts is one of the goals of the national ID, aiding potential depositors in meeting stringent bank ID requirements. Joining the banking system is expected to promote inclusiveness, by putting new account holders on the path to developing a credit history.

Bank accounts tied to the national ID are also expected to facilitate government cash aid distribution.

Ms. Borromeo said physical distancing and health protocols will continue to be observed in the registration centers during the pandemic.

“Our participation in the PhilSys registration is in line with the Duterte administration’s financial inclusion agenda of bringing unbanked Filipinos to the financial mainstream, and is in response to (Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III’s) directive for us to accelerate our shift to digital-based transactions to prepare us for the new economy,” she was quoted as saying in a report to the DoF. — Beatrice M. Laforga