BPI Direct BanKo serves over 10,000 SEMEs, on track with 200 branches

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DAVAO CITY — Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) is on track with opening 200 branches of its microfinance unit BPI Direct BanKo Inc. (BanKo) by the end of the year, with 180 already in place as of end-October.

“We remain on track and we continue to build our presence across the country. The fastest growing part of our niche has been our BanKo and that is because we remain focused on our financial inclusion as an institution,” Senior Vice-President Juan Carlos Syquia said in an interview here.

As of Oct. 31, he said, there were already 180 branches and the smaller branch-lite units (BLUs) in place nationwide, including 21 in Mindanao.

Mr. Syquia said the BPI Direct BanKo network has so far served more than 10,000 self-employed micro-entrepreneurs (SEMEs).

Providing a financing window to these SEMEs is part of BPI’s overall growth plan, he added.

“The retail (banking), obviously, is the bigger part in number, and in terms of deposits, it is the higher growth area. In corporate, growth is also high, but in financial inclusion, these (SEMEs) are the unbanked… and we want to play a role in bridging the gap while we can still make a fair return for our shareholders,” Mr. Syquia said.

BPI Direct BanKo offers financing from P25,000 to P300,000, with interest rates of 2%-2.3%.

No collateral is required for loans up to P100,000.

Data from the Department of Trade and Industry show micro, small and medium enterprises make up 99.67% of the country’s total number of business establishments, of which 20% or about 166,769 are micro-enterprises located in Mindanao. — Maya M. Padillo