To address to disparity in the 77% Unbanked and underbanked Filipinos, Cebuana Lhuillier recently held a forum on Financial Inclusion.
Cebuana Lhuillier, one of the country’s leading microfinancial services company, recently unveiled the Cebuana Lhuillier Micro Savings, which will provide Filipinos with a more convenient and affordable means to save their hard-earned money.
Acting as a cash agent of the Cebuana Lhuillier Rural Bank (CLRB), micro savings is Cebuana Lhuillier’s platform for Filipinos to overcome the barriers to saving. While Filipinos like to save, they opt to keep it at home according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)
The lukewarm attitude of the masses towards opening a savings account is attributed to the barriers to saving in banks. The lack of access to banks among the country’s many cities and municipalities remains as the top deterrent, according to a BSP study. In fact, only 33% or 551 cities in the Philippines have access to banking institutions. The numerous documentary requirements is a major turn off for many, along with the high cost of initial deposit, high maintaining balance, as well as, high dormancy charges.
Cebuana Lhuillier Micro Savings enables every Filipino to break through these barriers. Opening a Cebuana Lhuillier Micro Savings account requires only one valid ID and a minimal Php 50 initial deposit. And because of Cebuana Lhuillier’s wide network of branches comprised of 2,500 retail infrastructures, account holders can deposit and withdraw anywhere at their most convenient hours.
The product is in line with the Cebuana Lhuillier’s mission of financial inclusion, which has been the thrust of the company for the past 30 years.
“With BSP’s basic deposit framework, Cebuana Lhuillier Micro Savings completes the full roster of our services, all designed and developed with financial inclusion in mind. We’ve come full circle—from offering collateralized loans or pawning, remittance service, micro insurance and now, micro savings—all of these products were designed with Filipinos from all walks of life in mind especially the unbanked and underserved, who would not have access to these financial services given their circumstances in life,” said Jean Henri Lhuillier, president & CEO of Cebuana Lhuillier.
To ensure that micro savings account holders can fully maximize the use of their savings account and ensure greater connectivity, Cebuana Lhuillier will also be launching its very own eCebuana app which allows micro savings users to check their balance and send money through remittance, as well as load prepaid credits to their phones, and pay their bills by integrating it to their Cebuana Lhuillier Micro Savings account.
The app is just the first step in a long line of innovations connected to the micro savings product – on top of which is its migration to an EMV-enabled card which can be accessed through ATMs (automated teller machines). It will also carry a debit and credit facility for online and cashless shopping, provide access to auxiliary services and help corporate and MSME (micro, small, and medium enterprises) clients manage their business through payroll cash management solutions.
Furthermore, it will progress to provide more value with features like remit-to-and-from savings account; pay and deposit from savings account; and an international remit-to-account feature which will provide convenience to Filipinos abroad in sending money to their families in the Philippines. This innovation will also allow clients to have safe and convenient access to their accounts in all Cebuana Lhuillier branches, Cebuana CARES, agent partners, and all online and mobile channels, as well as, access to all CLRB branches set to establish presence nationwide. For easier access, self-service kiosks in Cebuana Lhuillier branches will also be put in place.
All these efforts to make savings accessible to every Filipino are part of Cebuana Lhuillier President & CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier’s vision on financial wellness. “Cebuana Lhuillier is also adapting a new philosophy, which is financial wellness. Our goal is not just to provide quick cash to the underbanked and unbanked for their short-term financial needs but to become an enabler for a better future for them. Allowing more and more Filipinos to steer their own direction and be captains of their own ship. We want to help them graduate from being dependent through bridge financing options for them to experience financial freedom,” Lhuillier said.
The launch of Cebuana Lhuillier Micro Savings coincides with the launch of the #KayaNa: Unbanked Filipinos No More Movement, which aims to transform the landscape of saving in the Philippines. In light and in support of the BSP’s call for greater financial inclusion among Filipinos, Cebuana Lhuillier aims to reach more underserved Filipinos and empower them to save for the future through its micro savings product.