THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) approved eight new bank branches in the fourth quarter of 2022, higher than the same period a year prior, amid an increased number of applications for physical offices.

The BSP green-lit eight new regular branches in the period, higher compared with just one regular branch approved in the fourth quarter of 2021, based on a circular letter posted on the central bank’s website signed by Assistant Governor Arifa A. Ala.

It also approved 11 new branch-lite units (BLUs) of universal and commercial banks, thrift banks, and rural and cooperative banks.

Two of the newly approved regular branches belonged to China Banking Corp. (China Bank), and one regular branch was for Robinsons Bank Corp.

The BSP allowed three thrift banks to open regular branches and branch-lite units. Two regular branches were for the First Consolidated Bank, Inc., while Dumaguete City Development Bank, Inc. and Wealth Development Bank Corp. each had one BLU approved.

Meanwhile, Rural Bank of Apalit, Inc. was allowed to open three regular branches in Rizal and Bulacan. BINHI Rural Bank, Inc., LifeBank – A Rural Bank and Rural Bank of Bambang Inc. can open a total of seven new BLUs.

During the last three months of 2022, 18 banks opened regular branches, BLUs, and microfinance units in the country. This was higher compared with only 13 banks during the same period in 2021. 

The central bank said there were 15 regular branches that were opened in different locations around the country in the fourth quarter of last year.

Four of the newly opened regular branches were owned by BDO Unibank Inc., and one by China Bank in Tanza, Cavite. Land Bank of the Philippines also opened a regular branch in Tayabas City and seven BLUs across the country.

Five rural bank regular branches were opened in different areas and 40 rural bank BLUs. Meanwhile, four regular branches and 15 BLUs were set up by thrift banks.

Branch-lite units have limited banking activities compared with regular branches, but it could still provide a wide range of products and services suited for the needs of the market except for clients with aggressive risk tolerance.

Regular offices are traditional brick and mortar branches operating within a building and offer full banking services. — K.B. Ta-asan