RCBC BANKARD has already reached its initial target and is looking to issue more cards. — RCBCBANKARD.COM

RCBC BANKARD Services Corp. has reached its full-year target for credit card issuance and is eyeing grow its pool to breach the one million mark in second semester next year.

RCBC Bankard President and CEO Simon Javier A. Calasanz said the bank has issued around 190,000 credit cards as of end-October this year, which is already past its initial target of 150,000 for 2019.

Mr. Calasanz said the bank is now eyeing to end the year with 200,000 cards to bring its total issuance to 850,000.

“That will bring us as sixth in the industry. Our aim is to hit one million cards by the year 2020 — probably by second half of 2020 ma-reach na namin ’yung (we can reach) one million cards,” he told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of a company event last week.

RCBC’s credit card arm was able to expand its portfolio by focusing on the 20 million Filipinos that are considered bankable but have no access to credit, Mr. Calasanz said in an earlier interview.

Last July, he said the lender is targeting to issue five million cards over the next 20 years, largely expanding to the non-card debt segment.

Currently, he said the market in rural areas has been very receptive of their drive to reach the unbanked sector, adding that half of their new applications came from those in the provinces.

Mr. Calasanz admitted that the credit card industry has not been inclusive in the past as banks typically offer credit to those who have existing credit history.

“In Bankard, we believe that even at a young age, even people with smaller incomes… As long as you educate them in financial literacy, they can use credit cards responsibly — and that something that we’ve been doing over the past four years,” he said.

As the lender expands to the new-to-credit sector, he said RCBC Bankard still maintains a healthy risk tolerance as it keeps its delinquency rate at four percent and assured that it will not go beyond double-digit level.

“We’ve been doing small tests, issuing credit to people who don’t have credit and so far those tests have been going very well. So our delinquency level from this sector have been very controlled, hence now we’re expanding issuing credit to people who you would be considering unbanked before,” he said.

Mr. Calasanz said the bank is also partnering with fintech companies for faster and accurate credit scoring.

“We’re very bullish on credit card growth, we think the room for growth, like I mentioned, there’s still very huge potential because the market is only been lending to people who already have credit. We want to focus on the 20 million who don’t have credit now,” he said. — Beatrice M. Laforga