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Business

Smart extends mobile money services to rural banks

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Smart Communications Inc., the wireless arm of dominant carrier Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), has tied up with First Macro Bank Inc. to bring the benefits of mobile money to more farmers and rural enterprises in Southern Luzon and Metro Manila.

Under the partnership, Smart said applications for a Smart Money account would be accepted and processed in First Macro Bank’s 15 branches and offices in Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Pasig, Pateros and Taguig.

Smart Money is the world’s first electronic wallet service that allows Smart’s 52 million subscribers to transfer money electronically to any Smart subscriber, pay bills using their mobile phone, reload their Smart prepaid accounts, and do cashless shopping online and in more than 32 million MasterCard merchants worldwide.

Smart senior manager for financial services Maybelle Santos said Smart Money users would soon be able to reload their account and convert electronic money into physical cash in any branch of First Macro Bank.

The rural bank would eventually use Smart Money to disburse commissions, loans and salaries, as well as collect loan payments and savings.

“Our partnership with First Macro Bank reinforces our efforts to give more Filipinos a secure, convenient, and fast way of completing different financial transactions,” Santos stressed.

She pointed out that more farmers and owners of rural enterprises would soon be able to deposit money and pay loan amortization with a few clicks on their mobile phone.

“They will save time and effort and can thus focus more on their work and family,” she added.

First Macro Bank president Reginald Ocampo said the bank believes that technology would continue to bring more convenience to the bank’s clients.

“This is just the start of continuous development.  With Smart’s platform and dynamism, this is just the beginning of bringing better service to our clients and the communities we serve,” Ocampo explained.

Smart is venturing into the country’s first mobile microfinance banking by powering the country’s first microfinance bank, mBank, into fully utilizing mobile technology to deliver convenient services to Filipinos with little or no access to the formal banking system.

Smart would support the PLDT-Smart Foundation, mobile microfinance holding company mBank Holding, Finnish development finance company Finnfund, and Dutch development bank FMO in launching mBank Philippines.

The microfinance firm would provide members of the low-income population with savings and loan products exclusively on a mobile platform.

A survey showed that seven out of 10 Filipinos do not have an account at a formal financial institution mainly because of steep deposit requirements and the absence of banks in remote areas.

Pilot services are already being offered by mCompany, a non-government organization whose operations will spin off into mBank Philippines once the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas approves its application for a formal banking license.

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