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NEWS UPDATES 28 September 2009

Philippines’ bank upbeat over remittance business

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Philippines’ Banco de Oro Unibank (BDO), which cornered a fourth of the $16.4 billion remitted by overseas-based Filipinos through the banking system last year, expects to remain No. 1 in that business segment despite the slowdown expected this year, the Business Mirror online reported.

The Henry Sy-led bank grabbed the biggest share of the market last year, facilitating a total of $4.22 billion in remittances, or 25.71 percent of the volume captured by the banking system.

The country’s largest bank in terms of assets, deposits and loans as of end-June, expects growth in the volume of remittances it handled this year to be slower than last year because of the global economic slowdown.

“We have a small growth so far this year, but it’s still decent, and hopefully we’ll be able to grow more toward the end of this year, when remittances pick up, especially during the Christmas holidays,” said Ismael Estela Jr., senior vice president and group head of transaction banking.

“So I think we should be able to maintain our market share of 26 percent,” he said in an interview after the launch of an enhanced electronic-banking partnership with Smart Communications Inc.

Estela on Friday said his group, which handles BDO’s cash management, electronic banking and remittance business, is expected to deliver a 15-percent growth in revenue this year over 2008.

The remittance business is expected to add to the growth, but he said cash management remains the biggest contributor.

The bank was recognised by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) early this year as the Top Commercial Bank on Overseas Filipino Remittances in 2008. It improved its ranking from the No. 3 spot in 2007 as a result of the integration of its remittance business with that of Equitable PCI Bank, which it acquired that year.

Ayala-led Bank of the Philippine Islands, the third-largest local bank, has been elevated to the Hall of Fame by the BSP for being the top remittance bank in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The central bank, which had initially projected zero growth in remittances, has become more upbeat in its outlook after data showed such inflows increased 9.3 percent in July to $1.5 billion, the highest annual growth seen so far this year. Cumulative remittances from January to July increased by 3.8 percent to nearly $10 billion.


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