In 1998, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines launched the Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS) program with technical assistance and implementation provided by Chemonics International. This initiative is designed to accelerate national economic transformation in partnership with the Philippine rural banking industry to significantly expand access to financial services for microentrepreneurs and other lower income groups. The MABS Program provides training and technical assistance to participating rural banks in the Philippines to develop their capacity to profitably provide financial services, including loans, deposits, and money transfer services to microenterprises in the Philippines. Since 1998, the MABS Program has helped more than 330 rural banks/branches expand their services and outreach throughout the Philippines.
Since 2004, the MABS Program has partnered with G-XChange, Inc. (GXI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Globe Telecom, in the development and implementation of mobile phone banking applications and mobile commerce services for rural banks and their clients. Approved by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), rural banks can now offer electronically-driven financial services in the comfort of their homes, business or offices. These services include Text-A-Payment (TAP) for loan payment, Text-A-Remittance (TAR) to transfer money locally and abroad, Text-A-Deposit (TAD) for remote deposit mobilization, and Text-A-Withdrawal (TAW) whereby clients can withdraw electronic money directly from their savings account to their mobile wallet.
The banks and their clients are finding that mobile phone banking offers significant benefits in terms of reduced costs, security and convenience in accessing financial services, and expanding business opportunities.
Mobile phone banking offer other advantages for the bank: it improves transparency of financial transactions, helps control fraud, and reduces errors associated with cash transactions. Rural banks can also provide payroll processing services for small businesses enabling employees to receive their salaries via their mobile phone wallets. For the clients, using mobile phone banking turns their phone into a virtual ATM on the palm of their hands. Convenience and lower transaction costs are what the clients experience when they use their mobile phones and GCash to receive loans, make payments and deposits, withdraw funds from their deposit accounts, receive money from relatives and friends, and even buy and sell goods remotely.