Strengthened partnerships is key to soften impact of COVID-19 on OFW Remittances

The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) sees the important role of strengthened partnerships with various remittance tie-ups in cushioning the impact of the pandemic on remittances from overseas Filipinos (OF) workers.

Reggie Cariaso, BPI Head of Corporate Banking Strategy, Products, and Support, said OFs are looking for financial services that would offer them convenient and safe options to send money from abroad, especially with the lockdowns in the country and elsewhere.

“During the earlier period of the ECQ, there were also lockdowns in several countries. Remittance was affected since our tie-ups with brick and mortar branches were closed. Hence, sending money to the Philippines became a challenge for our OF clients,” said Mr. Cariaso.

BPI strengthened partnerships with select remittance tie-ups during the pandemic. With the convenience and safety of digital banking services, there was double digit growth for transactions done via digital platforms.

“We appreciated how our partners have waived the send fees and encouraged the use of online or mobile banking to make it easy for our clients to send money to the Philippines,” Mr. Cariaso added.

BPI worked with nine of its remittance partners to waive remittance fees, some of them also offered discounts and preferential rates for foreign currency exchange whenever possible. Partner remittance tie-ups include I-Remit, WorldRemit, Western Union, Kookmin Bank, Tahweel Al Rajhi, NCB Quick Pay, Enjaz and Bank Albilad, Moneygram, and Remitly.

“We are committed to make sure that our remittance services are not interrupted, and the beneficiaries of OFs will receive their remittances on time and can easily access the funds they need from our open branches and ATMs, which remain operational,” said Cariaso.

As OF workers were also severely affected by the pandemic, with most of them facing several employment challenges, they are still expected to send money to their loved ones based on the behavior observed in previous crises.

Digital Empowerment

BPI also encourages OF clients to make use of the bank’s digital tools to be used for remittance services during this pandemic. Having a remittance account enables OFs and their beneficiaries to send and receive remittances from the comfort of their homes.

With BPI’s innovative services, OF clients can make use of online remittance status inquiry feature that can be used even without logging into BPI Online Banking. BPI also offers BPI PamanaPadala, a remittance account that allows OFs to remit to their own account, and do fund transfers to their beneficiaries, anytime anywhere. It also gives free personal accident and life insurance to give remitters peace of mind while supporting their families. There is also BPI PadalaMoneyger, an account for remittance beneficiaries, so they can receive remittances safely, manage their funds via online and mobile banking, and withdraw only when needed.

“We’ve noticed that a lot of senders are adopting digital methods of sending money back home. We are currently highlighting our abilities to efficiently transfer money to bank accounts. Having direct partnership with remittance institutions enables us to encourage more customers to send and receive digitally,” said Mr. Cariaso.

For sound financial advice during these challenging times, BPI also provides financial guidance for OFs and conducts weekly webinars to discuss the best ways on how they can manage their finances.

“All these financial solutions have empowered our OFs who are doing all they can to uplift the lives of their families back home,” Mr. Cariaso added.

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