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PBCom looks at agency banking, small branches

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By Karl Angelo N. Vidal, Reporter

PHILIPPINE Bank of Communications (PBCom) is eyeing to open branch-lite units and deploy cash agents as it maximizes its synergy with the Puregold network.

In an interview, PBCom President and Chief Executive Officer Patricia May T. Siy said the Co-led lender will focus on its ecosystem as it aims to increase its presence to more areas.

“As we said, we’ll focus on the ecosystem right now… For us, it’s really more of presence and likely within the Puregold network,” Ms. Siy told BusinessWorld following the listing ceremony of the bank’s long-term negotiable certificates of time deposit on Monday.




She added that PBCom intends to “take advantage” the central bank’s guidelines which allow lenders to open smaller branches and deploy cash agents.

“[Our new branches] could be a permanent presence or just a temporary presence which the current agency banking allows.”

In January 2017, BSP issued regulations which allow clients to withdraw and deposit cash, access online self-service deposits, fund transfers as well as bills payment through cash agents employed by the banks.

Aside from this, Ms. Siy added that part of its long-term strategy is to put up more branches across the Puregold network of supermarkets, some of which could be branch-lite units.

“Eventually the plan is to [place branch-lite units] in as many [areas], but not this year,” she said.

Branch-lite offices are branches that are more compact and less formal compared with the typical full-service bank branch, which can be placed in unbanked or underserved towns and cities.

“That’s already part of the long-term plan so there will be a deployment strategy,” Ms. Siy added, referring to the establishment of branch-lite offices.

In 2014, retail tycoon Lucio L. Co bought a stake in PBCom for nearly P6 billion, making Puregold the bank’s biggest single shareholder.

PBCom posted a P146.3-million net income in the second quarter, declining by 20% from the P183.8 million tallied a year ago.

The listed lender, the 20th biggest in the industry in asset terms, is currently licensed as a commercial lender and had a network of 89 branches and 147 automated teller machines as of end-June.