Monday, 6 July 2009

RCBC to launch ATM card for Manila MRT commuters

Erik de la Cruz
Business Mirror

RIZAL Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) is hoping to boost its earnings starting this year by offering a reloadable cash card that can be used by Metro Rail Transit (MRT) commuters.

The Yuchengco-led bank, the seventh-largest in the country, will launch on July 15 its MyWallet MRT card, which functions like a regular ATM card but without requiring customers to maintain a minimum balance in their accounts.

“We see the potential of the MyWallet MRT card as an additional source of fee-based income for the bank,” bank president Lorenzo Tan said.

Card holders are allowed fast and easy access to the MRT, with their fares debited automatically from their account balances, and can also pay bills and do cashless shopping, he said.

The new card product is the first of its kind in the banking industry, according to RCBC.

The elevated railway transport system is operated by a company that is now controlled by state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines following a buy-in transaction early this year.

“Beyond traditional bricks and mortar, RCBC continues to expand its customer reach via electronic channels,” Tan said.

The bank has close to 2 million customers as of the first quarter and Tan dreams of expanding its customer base to 5 million by 2012.

The bank, he said, has also put up and is establishing more eBiz—or electronic business—centers to help unclog its 330 branches of over-the-counter transactions.

“Equipped with self-service machines, the eBiz Center is the future of electronic banking,” he said.

Tan said the bank will spend P800 million to beef up and improve its information-technology infrastructure this year.

The bank is looking to acquire medium-sized banks with strong presence in Metro Manila and rural banks, particularly those operating in northern Luzon and the Visayas, to expand its operations. The goal is to expand its network to 400 branches the soonest time possible, and have at least 200 branches in Metro Manila.

After meeting these targets, however, Tan said RCBC will try to do banking business with its customers mainly through electronic channels given that more and more people are now embracing information technology.

The bank is projecting a 10- to 15-percent increase in net income this year over last year’s P2.15 billion, which it said will be driven mainly by higher interest income given an expanding loan portfolio.

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