CIMB Philippines is looking at more partnerships to boost its business. — REUTERS

CIMB BANK Philippines, Inc. is looking to continue building partnerships from different industries as part of their strategy to build a customer base through platforms users are already familiar with.

They are also assessing to diversify their loan portfolio which is currently still focused to catering the retail segment, according to CIMB Bank Philippines Chief Executive Officer Vijay Manoharan.

“We want to work with a variety of partners, and continue to grow our partnership channels, or partnership relationships…so we’ll continue to seek new partners as a platform bank, that’s our strategy,” he said in an interview with BusinessWorld earlier this month.

The bank’s most recent tie-up is with CIS Bayad Center, Inc., the bills payment arm of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco). Their partnership will allow CIMB to offer loan and savings products to Bayad Center customers through the Bayad Center app.

“You can directly access a credit to pay off bills, or access credit to just get cash to attend to something you need to do. So we are availing credit to the Bayad Center base through their own channels,” Mr. Manoharan said.

The official said their strategy for 2020 is to multiply these partnerships where they can co-create joint solutions.

Asked about players or industries they want to tie up with, he said: “E-commerce. Travel, transportation, so we look across the whole framework, even groceries… Wherever the customer sort of engages.”

Mr. Manahoran said the majority of their users were lured through their partnership with GCash where customers can directly save money into CIMB through the GCash App. This kind of pickup, where customers enjoy their services from another app which they are already used to, is something they are “happy about” because it is exactly their model, he said.

The bank chief said users below 35 years old make up a large number of their client base “which is exactly what we want because the room for them to grow…evolve and develop in your life stage to career stage is all ahead of them.”

Mr. Manoharan said they want to attract customers from all walks of life and from different age groups. However, as a digital bank, they observed that young consumers, who are naturally more tech-savvy, has been the first ones to buy into the online bank business because of “ease of early adoption” and pickup.

Aside from sealing more partnerships, Mr. Manoharan said they are also studying how to expand their loan portfolio which is predominantly retail right now.

“So whether it’s microenterprises, small to medium enterprises, we are doing a study as we speak to see how can we go in there and effectively solve pain points for those segments. This is something that we are not rushing into, but we are studying the opportunity,” he said.

He said loan bookings from the local market have been growing 15-20% per month since they launched the product in May.

The process of securing loans from CIMB is done digitally through their app. Mr. Manoharan said the application takes 10 minutes and is assessed in real-time.

The CEO said they use very complex algorithms to try to veer away from the traditional means of credit assessment, which has barred a lot of customers from accessing loan services due to ineligibility.

“We have to use alternative means…to assess whether a person has got the ability to borrow. And this means that we can extend credit to more and more Filipinos,” he said.

Customers can choose the term of their loans from one to five years, while the credit granted can be from P50,000 to P2 million. The money is disbursed through CIMB or through any accounts with other lenders.

The Malaysian bank’s customer base in the Philippines is currently 1.5 million users strong. — Luz Wendy T. Noble