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BPI bullish on economy amid easing inflation rate

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Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) remains bullish on the economy this year as low inflation and easing interest rates could boost consumer spending, according to its top executive.

“People are talking about higher inflation in the second quarter, primarily because of base effects. But our forecast, internally, is that you’ll see a little bump in the second quarter, but that will again come down in the third quarter, which should give room for the BSP [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas] to cut rates,” said BPI president and chief executive Jose Teodoro Limcaoco.

Limcaoco noted the improving consumer confidence, “comforted by the fact that, for the most part, the rise in interest rates has stopped, and people are looking forward to falling interest rates by the second half of the year, so that bodes well for the economy.”

The bank is also starting to see strong growth on the consumption side.

“Our credit card book grew 38 percent. Our auto loan book grew 24 percent, and our total loan book grew 10 and a half percent for the year when we were expecting it to only grow 8 percent,” Limcaoco said.

BPI is also focused on moving its customer base to its mobile apps. The bank has about 11 million customers, but only over 6 million registered in its mobile app, with about 4.5 million of them considered active users.

“We plan to increase from 11 million to something quite significant, significantly higher than that by the end of this year,” he said.

BPI last year launched a business unit called Agency Banking. “This strategy means we are not relying solely on our own branches and digital platforms, but you can also have access to our products and services from different partner merchants,” he said.

“You can go to any Robinsons retail store, Ayala mall, etc. and get assistance to open an account or onboard any of our services with the people there. We have over 5,000 doors that we call partners today,” he said.


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