Kabayan, have you heard about Overseas Filipino Bank?
By virtue of Executive Order No. 44, the President, Mr. Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the acquisition of the Philippine Postal Bank by Landbank of the Philippines and reformed it to be Overseas Filipino Bank. This was signed last 28 September 2017 and was formally launched on 18 January 2018.
Overseas Filipino Bank is a policy bank, (meaning, it aims to implement government policies) dedicated to providing financial products and services tailored to the requirements of the overseas Filipinos and focused on delivering quality and efficient foreign remittance service.
More than a year after its launching, it has now a website (overseasfilipinobank.gov.ph) with vital information published. A number of banks existing in the Philippines right now have already tied-up with other foreign banks to provide the needed services of the OFWs around the world. It would require good marketing, good service and attractive products to convince the millions of OFWs around the world to switch or at least open an account with OFB. That was what I had in mind when I checked their website and when I called them.
The bank is still in its transition phase and is being digitized to be at par, if not more advanced than the existing banks. There is no point of comparison as of yet.
But since the bank was created as a fulfillment of the President’s promise to uplift the condition of the OFWs and promote the welfare of our modern-day heroes, I assumed that OFWs would benefit or at least be favored by the bank.
Some banks are already ahead of the bandwagon. After all, Philippines has been sending global workers for I don’t know how long.
Two of the OFW-friendly banks are BPI and Banco de Oro.
- BPI has Pamana Padala for OFWs program which offers free 90-day Personal Accident Insurance worth P100,000 when you open a Pamana Padala account. If you are regularly sending remittance, there is also a free life insurance coverage. “Mawala ka man, patuloy na makakatanggap ng remittance ang iyong beneficiary sa loob ng 12 buwan – libre, sagot ng BPI,” says BPI. Visit the bank or the website for more details.
- Banco de Oro has Kabayan Savings Account, which is also a remittance account, has accident and life insurance rolled into one for qualified OFWs.
My point being, some banks have already done the extra mile to lure our foreign currency-earning Kabayans. To outdo them, OFBanks should do more in terms of service and products offering.
For me to consider or to open an account with OFB, these are my expectations of the services and products that the bank should offer:
Elimination of remittance fees. OFWs are already charged every time they send their remittances. Once the money is received in the Philippine bank, such remittance is again charged. If it could eliminate the charge or make it lower than what other banks are charging, then the struggling Juan might consider the switch.
Higher exchange rate. OFWs would always go for the best rate of their hard-earned money. A cent or two difference in exchange rate would cover for the remittance fee or the bank charges, at least. On those days that tuition fees are sent to their beneficiaries, a higher exchange in pesos could mean additional budget for school supplies.
More branches abroad. A branch manned by a kabayan, who understands the need of his fellow, speaks the same language and trust each other like brothers, both away from their home country would really spell a difference in the service. It would feel like home. Win-win.
Availability of financial advisers. Sometimes, we just don’t know how to make our money work for us. We are wary that we might make some bad moves, (like the ones we saw on TV) and we lost the bucks. This is where financial advisers come in. Bank-sponsored financial literacy seminars would greatly benefit the Filipino workers abroad by educating them on investment opportunities, handling their personal finances and how not to fall into scams. It would also promote local businesses when OFWs themselves are investing their money in the Philippines.
One-stop bank that accepts payments for SSS, OWWA dues, PAGIBIG payments. Convenience is the term.
Credit cards that convert points to miles. OFWs travel. At least once a year. OFWs own credit cards. If those credit card points can be converted into miles, then let’s switch to OFBank Credit cards. It would allow us to escape during a long holiday and come home. Or explore other parts of the world.
Debt consolidation. For Filipinos with home loans, credit card debts and car loans from different banks, consolidation of all these loans into one bank which offers lower interest rate would spell advantage. It is difficult enough that we are far away; it is more difficult to deal with three different banks having different due dates.
Loan products for negosyo, pabahay, and education. These are the concerns and the whys of the OFWs. A more favorable term on the loans that cover these concerns would be a big help. Tie up with some government agencies that provide technical assistance to would-be entrepreneurs for those who would avail of negosyo loans, and educational loans to OFW dependents would greatly benefit this segment of the society.
Of course, we expect that this bank has online banking service, easy loan application with low-interest rate and high-yielding investment rates. All accounts for remittance should be zero opening and maintaining balance.
I hope that in asking for these things, I have not trampled on our banking laws.
The good thing about OFBank is that it is a subsidiary of Landbank of the Philippines. It is a government bank. We learn from Political Science class that the government is always solvent. Ergo, there is no way that OF Bank will declare bankruptcy.
In February this year, OFWs remittance amounted to US$5 billion from personal and cash remittances (as per Central Bank of the Philippines data). In 2017, overseas Filipinos personal remittances alone (not including those sent thru the banks or cash remittances) account for the 10% of the gross domestic product and 8.3% of the gross national income. We help propel the economy.
Our remittances are worth the chase.
OFBank main office is located at the Post bank Center, Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila. All former Postal Bank of the Philippines will now be called OFBank. For more information about the OFBank, please check their website.
Would you open/consider an account with OFBank? Share your insights in the comments section below.