Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III is seeking the assistance of International Finance Corp., the private sector arm of the World Bank, to help set up a digital banking system for the Overseas Filipino Bank.
Dominguez said in a recent meeting with World Bank and IFC officials that he wanted OFB to start with a clean slate and leapfrog to digital banking so that it would be more effective and responsive in catering to the financial needs of overseas-based Filipinos.
He said that as OFB had not yet invested heavily in legacy systems that were now becoming outdated, the bank could “leapfrog” to new technologies to enable it to operate as a digital bank.
“It’s tabula rasa [clean slate]. No legacy mistakes here. But we don’t have the people and the system. So we’re looking at your expertise to assist here,” Dominguez told the World Bank delegation led by Victoria Kwakwa, the multilateral lender’s regional vice president for East Asia and Pacific.
Nena Stoiljkovic, the IFC’s vice president for Asia and Pacific, was also in the meeting.
“We’d love to take a look at that,” said Stoiljkovic in response to Dominguez’s request. She said the IFC was undertaking “similar types of interventions in other countries.”
The establishment of OFB was one of the campaign promises of President Rodrigo Duterte to migrant Filipino workers in 2016.
The DOF expanded the bank’s coverage to include all overseas-based Filipinos to make it more inclusive.
Dominguez said that a digital banking system for OFB could later lead to less state interference, with state-run Land Bank of the Philippines, the parent company of OFB, controlling less than 50 percent of the new bank in the future.
“We just need funds for all these, and we’re looking for assistance in this leapfrogging operation. This will allow us to partially privatize it in the future, even bring down the share of LandBank to below 50 percent. These are things we’re looking at,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez also said during the meeting that the economic team was fast-tracking the rollout of the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, with the government implementing a hybrid public-private partnership model to speed up the process.
Dominguez said the start of the expansion of the international airport in Clark, Pampanga was a clear proof that the government could implement big-ticket projects faster under a hybrid PPP setup, as opposed to traditional PPP projects that previously took 30 to 50 months to break ground.
He said that of the 75 flagship projects under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ portfolio, 35 had already passed the approval process.