GSIS taps Union Bank for eCard scheme
() - May 30, 2005 - 12:00am
The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has tapped the Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP) as the service provider for the state-owned pension fund’s eCard scheme, GSIS executive vice president Enriqueta Disuanco said.

She said UBP was chosen due to its track record as well as for submitting the best bid for the project. Among the criteria used by GSIS in choosing its eCard technology partner were products technology superiority and track record, network, and financial bid.

"UBP has also a wide choice of delivery channels, including 112 branches, 94 automated teller machines (ATMs), additional 5,165 ATMS through connectivity with Megalink, BancNet and ExpressNet networks, telephone banking call centers and the Internet," she said.

"UBP also had the best cost-benefit justification to GSIS among the banks who bid for this project and from a technical evaluation, the most suitable and customized eCard design features in accordance with GSIS specifications," Disuanco added.

For their part, UBP executive vice president for marketing Edwin Bautista pointed out that the bank is "one of the most stable, progressive and profitable banks in the country."

"Moody’s Investors Service, an international ratings agency, had in fact acknowledged UBP’s strong capitalization, above average profitability and professional management in its credit review of the bank," he said.

Bautista also stressed that UBP has led private domestic banks in terms of return on assets and capitalization ratio.

In terms of financial performance, capitalization, profitability and professional management, UBP is fully qualified to be a depository of GSIS, according to Disuanco.

"UBP submitted the most competent technical proposal and the most cost-efficient and advantageous for GSIS not only for the eCard program but also for all the financial facilities the GSIS required at minimum cost," she added.

While the other banks proposed only ATM for the eCard service, UBP offered what amounted to an "electronic wallet," consisting of identification, membership, disbursement, credit and cash functions, Disuanco pointed out.

For the GSIS, it does away with the payment through checks which cost the system P250 million a year in administrative expenses, Disuanco said.

Furthermore, Disuanco said UBP offered a financial maintaining balance of only P1 billion, compared to the P2 billion - P3 billion required by the other bidder banks.

GSIS has already distributed nearly one million eCard to its members nationwide.

GSIS electronic cardholders no longer have to go to the GSIS offices to transact business. With the use of the Internet or ATM, they can conduct their transactions, apply for loans and receive their benefits, as well as keep track of all their records and transactions with GSIS.

Disuanco also said the eCard also prevents fraud and protects members as it eliminates the danger of spurious GSIS checks. It also provides for better administration and record keeping of members’ transactions through automation.

Apart from being an ID and ATM card, the eCard is also a facility that allows GSIS members to enjoy the GSIS e-Granting System. E-Granting lets members not only access account information over the web, it also allows members to apply for various GSIS loans online and get proceeds through the eCard.

Meanwhile, to further reduce the processing time of loan applications by its members, GSIS has started implementing a program that allows the proceeds of salary loans to go directly to the GSIS members’ eCards’ ATM account.

Under the new e-crediting program, members who already have eCards need not wait anymore for their salary loan checks to be printed, mailed, and cleared with banks before applicants get hold of their loan proceeds.

Instead, after filing their salary loan application forms with the GSIS, members simply have to wait for a text message in their mobile cellular phones informing them that the amount is already deposited in the borrowers’ eCard ATM accounts.

E-crediting effectively lessens days of waiting for the GSIS loan checks to be encashed and lets the applicants use the money right away, according to GSIS president and general manager Winston Garcia.

GSIS members who want to enjoy the e-crediting system are thus advised to write down their cellphone numbers in their salary loan applications. If applicants do not have a cell phone, they can use the numbers of people whom they completely trust and who can readily alert them about the confirmation message.

The state pension fund said the cellphone number is a basic requirement for e-crediting because this not only lets the members know the status of their loans, it also gives GSIS electronic evidence that members have been informed that their loan proceeds were already credited to the eCard account.

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