RIZAL COMMERCIAL Banking Corp.’s (RCBC) credit card arm RCBC Bankard Services Corp. is eyeing to grow its card base next year as it continues to expand its digital channels.
RCBC Bankard is targeting to have an additional 180,000 cards in 2019 as it plans to grow its online platform in acquiring more customers, its top official said.
“We want to grow our internet channel. We know that the younger generation is moving towards digital channels. It’s definitely an area we want to focus on,” RCBC Bankard President and Chief Executive Officer Simon Javier A. Calasanz told BusinessWorld in a recent interview.
RCBC Bankard is the sixth biggest in the industry in terms of card base at 680,000 — which it said is expected to grow to 700,000 cards by yearend.
If fulfilled, the firm will end 2019 with a card base of 880,000, 25.7% bigger from this year.
Mr. Calasanz said its digital platform is the “more important” distribution channel apart from its direct sales force and bank branch as the firm saw a pickup in its online application.
To further expand its digital platform, he said the credit card firm is set to launch a mobile application and other technologies such as chat-bots and voice biometrics in its contact center.
“Through voice biometrics, the security procedure will be cut down to 15-20 seconds from one minute, which will improve customer service and security as well,” he said.
Aside from this, Mylene J. Bico, RCBC Bankard senior vice-president, said the credit card firm will continue to partner with other brands to sustain the growth of its card base.
“More than our existing channels, we want to tie up with partners like AirAsia which has a huge customer base already so that we have a steady source of card applications,” Ms. Bico said, noting that RCBC Bankard “might have one [partner] for retail” on the pipeline.
Amid its rapid growth in terms of cards and spend growth, Mr. Calasanz said RCBC Bankard is also affected by the rising interest rates environment. However, he noted the firm “has been weathering that storm quite well” due to its improving portfolio quality.
“[The rising interest rates do affect us,] because as interest rate increase, cost of funds also increase because of inflation. However, it’s been negated by our improvement in terms of delinquency,” he said.
“We’ve been able to manage our delinquency quite well. Over the past three years, our delinquency levels have decreased by 200 basis points.”
The central bank has raised its benchmark rates by a cumulative 175 basis points since May to rein in inflation expectations.
Inflation last month decelerated to 6% from a nine-year high of 6.7% logged in October and September, affirming views that it will return to the government’s 2-4% target next year.
RCBC Bankard said it has been among the top three credit card firms in terms of growth rate, doubling the industry’s card base and force growth of 6-7% and 15%, respectively. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal