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June 30, 2020

Branchless And Purely Digital: Overseas Filipino Bank Relaunched Amid COVID-19

Branchless And Purely Digital: Overseas Filipino Bank Relaunched Amid COVID-19 Overseas Filipino workers arrive at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange on June 18, 2020 following clearance to go home to their provinces after testing negative for COVID-19. Photo by KJ Rosales, The Philippine STAR

The state-owned Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) has been relaunched as the country’s first digital-only, branchless government bank, amid the onslaught of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that has sent thousands of overseas Filipinos home.

The idea was to allow clients to complete banking transactions “anytime and anywhere across the globe,” according to a statement that accompanied the virtual launch streamed via Facebook.

OFBank – https://www.ofbank.com.ph/ – will now use a digital onboarding system with artificial intelligence to allow clients to submit all requirements for real-time account opening online.

The applicant only needs to take a selfie, which will be compared by the system against the photograph in the submitted identification card. As soon as the account number is issued, the client may immediately do transactions.

For the interest-bearing peso savings accounts, there will be no minimum initial deposit and monthly average daily balance required, and no dormancy fee charged.

A P500 daily balance will only have to be maintained if the client wants deposit to earn interest.

Fund transfers to accounts with OFBank and its parent Land Bank of the Philippines will be free of charge.

For other banks, transfers will be subject to a service fee of P25 via InstaPay and P15 via PesoNet.

The available types of accounts are: Visa debit card for overseas Filipinos and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Visa debit card for beneficiaries, and debit card for beneficiaries below 18 years old.

The Visa debit cards will allow holders to receive fund transfers through the 16-digit card number, which may also be used for face-to-face and online payments wherever Visa is accepted, said Dan Wolbert, Visa country manager for the Philippines and Guam.

The debit card may be used as a credit card and as a means to pay for utilities, insurance, school fees, taxes, licenses, local government unit transactions, police clearances, and e-commerce purchases through Dragon Pay.

“Despite the global health crisis besetting the country today, our government remains true to its commitment of upholding the welfare of all Filipinos abroad and their families,” said OFBank chair Cecilia Borromeo, who also serves as the president and chief executive officer of its parent bank, Land Bank of the Philippines.

Wolbert considered “the reintroduction” of OFBank as “extremely timely when Filipinos are becoming more digital.” He cited the company’s research showing that nearly 80 percent of Filipinos were interested in using services from a digi-bank.

Launch host Gretchen Ho said: “OF Bank’s transformation is paramount to the new normal… It is now more agile to the needs of overseas Filipinos, OFWs and their beneficiaries.”

OFBank hopes to cater to 10.2 million overseas Filipinos as of March 2020, 2.39 million of whom are OFWS who remitted $30.1 billion last year, accounting for 9.3 percent of the gross domestic product (the total economic output of Filipinos).

OFBank was formerly known as the Philippine Postal Savings Bank or PostBank. President Duterte made the establishment of a bank for OFWs one of his campaign promises.

On Sept. 28, 2017, Duterte issued Executive Order No. 44 approving the thrift bank’s acquisition by Landbank. On Jan. 18, 2018, he led the ceremonial opening of OFBank in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila.

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