RCBC Bankard looking to issue five million cards over 10 years

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By Karl Angelo N. Vidal, Reporter

THE CREDIT CARD arm of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) eyes to issue five million cards over the next 10 years, as it sees growth in the non-card debt segment.

Simon Javier A. Calasanz, RCBC Bankard Services Corp. president and chief executive officer, said the firm targets to address the “low” credit card penetration rate in the country — currently at just about four million cardholders — by tapping credit-worthy individuals yet to avail of loans.

“Based on our informal study, about 20 million Filipinos are credit-worthy, and our aim at least over the next 10 years is to issue five million credit cards to those people,” Mr. Calasanz told reporters on the sidelines of RCBC’s annual stockholders’ meeting last week.

He added that the company is looking at the growth in the non-card debt segment or those who still do not have ready access to credit.


“Those are the people we want to issue credit to because these are also the people who currently have no choice to go to the informal lending sector. The informal lending sector charges an arm and a leg in terms of interest rates.”

Mr. Calasanz is optimistic at capturing more clients from this sector even if it is deemed “risky.”

“We entered into that segment fully cognizant of the fact that delinquency might be elevated for that sector. What we did three years ago is we set our risk tolerance threshold. If it exceeds the threshold, it means our test failed, but I’m very happy we are under that risk tolerance threshold even three years into that program,” he said.

In particular, RCBC Bankard put the threshold at 12% of balance delinquency. The delinquency rate for the newly-booked accounts peaked at around seven percent which Mr. Calasanz considers as “healthy.”

“It means the risks we’re taking are fine even for these people without credit history. And because of that, we started expanding to the segment a lot more,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

RCBC Bankard’s approach veers from the strategy of the credit card industry for the past years of issuing cards to people who have existing credit.

“The market was not very credit-inclusive before. So now, even if you do not have a credit card or loan, we’ll still give you a card as long as we can assess your capacity to pay.”

As of end-2018, RCBC Bankard had issued 695,000 credit cards.

Last December, Mr. Calasanz said the company eyes to expand its base by an additional 180,000 cards to end 2019 with a card base of 875,000 by expanding its digital platform.

Mylene J. Bico, RCBC Bankard senior vice president, earlier said the credit card firm will continue to partner with other brands to sustain the growth of its card base.