For state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), a multi-channel approach in the disbursement of social amelioration funds proved to be a viable solution in assisting marginalized, often unbanked, Filipinos who were economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
DBP president and chief executive officer Emmanuel G. Herbosa said the bank relied on this unique mechanism in the disbursement of more than P50-billion under the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program.
“DBP used a unique fund disbursement approach that harnessed automation, financial technology, and the strength of its partner ecosystems to distribute funds quickly and efficiently to both banked and unbanked recipients.”
He added that DBP was tapped as the sole disbursement bank for the SBWS Program, in part due to its proven model in disbursing similar government subsidies to unbanked beneficiaries of the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) program of the Department of Agriculture.
The SBWS program was paid out in two tranches starting April 30, 2020. The first tranche covered the release of P23.97-billion, while the second tranche, which ended on June 28, 2020, disbursed P22.65-billion to more than three million qualified employees affected by COVID-19 quarantine measures. The SBWS Program Task Force representing the Department of Finance, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the Social Security System was responsible in meticulously drawing up and approving the list of qualified beneficiaries.
Herbosa said that DBP utilized PESONet to quickly credit the funds to more than two million employees who have accounts with 58 PESONet participating banks, or who maintain e-wallets with PayMaya, a fintech company. DBP also tapped M Lhuillier, a BSP-licensed non- bank financial institution (NBFI), to disburse the social amelioration funds of more than one million unbanked employees through the latter’s network of more than 2,500 cash outlets nationwide.
Jeffrey Pedrido, 41, of Marilao, Bulacan is among them. A father of three, he works as a driver in a small store selling bikes and strollers. Since he does not have a bank account, Pedrido opted to claim his wage subsidy via cash pick-up at a nearby M Lhuillier branch. “Malaking tulong po ito sa pamilya ko at makakabayad po kami ng mga bayarin.”
Assistance to Rice Farmers
Herbosa also bared that earlier this year, DBP took the same approach in the release of more than P1.485-billion cash assistance to around 297,000 small-scale farmers under the DA’s RFFA Program.
The RFFA is an unconditional cash transfer program for rice farmers in 33 rice-producing provinces across the country who are tilling a land area ranging from 500 square meters up to two hectares. Each beneficiary receives a P5,000 cash aid which can be used for farm inputs and implements.
Herbosa said these disbursement initiatives show how DBP has harnessed technology and its network of partners to deliver innovative financial services responsive to the requirements of the National Government. “DBP has become flexible enough to go beyond its usual brick-and-mortar banking in helping the National Government mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic particularly on low-income households, small businesses and other vulnerable sectors of the economy.”