The BPI Wait

automated teller machine

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

I prefer to do most of my banking transactions online. If I can, I avoid going to the bank branch because I hate waiting, more so doing it standing in line. Unfortunately, there are times when I have to go to the bank for some urgent transactions.

BEA: No More Waiting In Line

I was pleasantly surprised to discover Bank of the Philippine Islands’ BEA (BPI Express Assist) earlier this year. BEA eliminates the standing in line part while waiting for your turn at the teller’s counter. BEA is a touch-screen terminal where you input your transaction details; after which a transaction number is automatically printed. You then sit comfortably in one of the many couches while you wait for your turn at the teller’s counter. The numbers are flashed in a large screen that can be seen by everyone. Both transaction time and waiting time is decreased because transaction details have already been keyed-in by the customer and automatically transmitted to the teller.

Cash Deposit Machine: Cash Deposits Credited In An Instant

Last September 10, I went to the bank’s Tomas Morato – Sct. Delgado branch to do a cash deposit. Being a Monday morning, there were many customers. Even if all teller counters were open at that time, I figured maybe I would have to wait for around 30 minutes.

I glanced around the branch and saw the cash deposit machine. I haven’t tried this machine before but I decided to try it then because of time considerations. Plus, there was a sign there that said cash deposits would be credited in an instant! I wonder why I didn’t notice it before. The machine functions essentially like an ATM but accepts cash deposits (paper bills) only. You insert your ATM card in the designated slot and key in your PIN. The money slot opens and you place your bills inside (no envelopes) where the machine tries to figure out the amount you deposited. It displays the denomination, number of bills per denomination and total amount of deposit. You confirm the numbers shown, then you get a receipt.

500 peso bill

Super fast transaction, if all your bills are accepted. When I made the deposit, however, one bill was rejected. I tried to put it back again twice, straightening the corners of the crisp new bill. A bank staff saw me taking too long at the machine and came over to help. Apparently, new bills will be rejected by the machine, if it has one of those commemorative logos that are not part of the regular design of the paper bill.

Hello, Customer Service?

If in-branch transactions in BPI have improved, unfortunately, its express phone banking service has not. You still have to wait for a long time to be attended to by a customer service representative. For me, five minutes of waiting is long already, and I would just hang up the phone and try again later. But you don’t have a choice but to wait when there’s an issue that needs to be resolved immediately.

That particular day, a weekday morning, I waited for more than 10 minutes before I was able to talk to someone. It was a simple matter of resetting an internet banking password that took about 3 minutes only.

Room for Improvement

Through the years, BPI has pioneered many product and service innovations that benefit its customers. That said, the bank still has some opportunities to improve its customer service. Specifically, I would like to see a big improvement in its phone banking service. I don’t know if it’s a staffing or infrastructure problem or both, but the bank needs to act on customers’ long waiting times. I also don’t like the phone banking practice of announcing a new product, service or promo before saying the menu options. I would appreciate if the bank can put a main menu option of having the call directed to a call center representative immediately, instead of having to press many digits and listening to many menu and submenu options.

Bank of the Philippine Islands has been my bank of choice for many years now. Being one of the largest banks in the country, it carries a wide range of products and services. More importantly for me, it has an extensive network of branches. I have chosen to do most of my banking transactions with BPI mainly because of convenience. I hope that it continues its innovative ways of providing quality customer service to the banking public. As for other banks, I hope they soon follow BPI’s lead in providing transaction convenience to its customer base.

***

UPDATE (21 Oct 2012):

Yesterday, I posted a link of this blog post to my twitter account (@mas10ph) and tagged @talktobpi. This morning, I received a reply from BPI. I wasn’t expecting a response on a weekend, so this was a welcome surprise.  This goes to show that Twitter can also be used as an effective customer service platform.

Below is BPI’s response to the concerns I raised:

talk to bpi

Thank you, BPI.

Lending Goes Social with Lenddo Philippines

Are you an employee who needs additional funds for health care, education, home repair and small business costs? You can now tap your online social network to get a loan.  No collateral is needed and the interest rates are low. Everything is done online, quickly.

Lenddo Philippines aims to help the emerging middle class to have access to financial services using social media as its platform. Lenddo will lend you money based on your online connections and behavior. You are given a credit score called the Lenddo score which is affected by your online community.

lenddo dashboard

Joining the Lenddo Community

To join the Lenddo community, register on its website. You link your Lenddo account to your social media accounts, namely, Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail and LinkedIn. You then invite family and friends from these networks to join Lenddo. They form part of your trusted network that will vouch for your creditworthiness. As you build your trusted community, you also build your credit score or Lenddo score. A minimum Lenddo score of 400 qualifies you to apply for a loan, provided you have at least three members of your trusted network each having a minimum Lenddo score of 400, with at least one of those being a  family member and one a co-worker.

While only those who are employed may apply for loan, anyone who is 18 years old and above can join the community. The unemployed can build up  their Lenddo score, and everyone can learn from the money management tips that the site features.

As with other money matters, it is important that we realize the value of getting the right financial advice and support from people whom we should trust. Just because Lenddo uses the social network platform doesn’t mean that we should invite all our so-called “friends” in the network. Remember that your credibility and creditworthiness is determined by the people in your network. Each one’s Lenddo score affects all the other Lenddo scores within a trusted network. If a person in your network is not able to pay for a loan, that will have a bearing on the Lenddo score of everyone in your network. So choose wisely those who you will invite in your network.

lenddo philippines

Lenddo Philippines Community Development Director Erika Aquino explains how Lenddo works.

Applying for a Loan

Applying for a loan is easy once you  have built a trusted network. Once logged in the Lenddo site, click on the Loan tab, then Apply for a Loan. There, some basic personal information, including employment information and financial information are required. You then fill out a loan form where you state the purpose and amount of the loan. Note that the loan should be for life improvement purposes only, like health care, education, home repair, debt consolidation and business. The interest rate is determined by several factors: your Lenddo score, the loan purpose and your ability to pay back a loan. The application is evaluated in as short as one day and if approved, the amount is credited directly to your bank account. There is no limit to the number of loans that you can avail. But you have to fully pay an existing loan to be eligible to apply for another one.

Friend-o-Meter: Facebook Game To Educate Filipinos About Trusted Communities

Friend-O-Meter

Being an online community, Lenddo recently launched Friend-O-Meter, a Facebook game through which Lenddo hopes its members learn the importance of trusted communities. In the game, players rank their Facebook friends’ trustworthiness against a range of simple questions like, “Which of these people would most likely not drink and drive?” Each vote that a player makes  is equal to one raffle entry. Fabulous raffle prizes are at stake in the grand draw on August 16: MacBook Air, 32-inch LCD TV and a digital camera. Prizes in the weekly draws are iPod shuffles.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Lenddo’s promise of easy access to credit is commendable.  Access to financial services is given to people who previously may have none. This access may be the defining opportunity for many to lead better lives.

But I see its social media platform as both its advantage and disadvantage. The application process is made easy by its online platform which is regularly accessed by its target market. However, there may be problems down the road with privacy and security  issues. Since information is shared among members of a trusted network, there may be leakages of information that might result to damaged relations among members of a network, which might ultimately damage the service. There’s also the problem of online scammers, who have carefully built fake online identities in various social media accounts. I hope that these issues are being adequately addressed by Lenddo.

More information on Lenddo on its Facebook page: 
www.facebook.com/lenddo

Please share your questions and comments in the comment box below.

On the Road to Financial Independence with Pesos and Sense

make your money grow seminar

Half the year has already passed. What have you accomplished so far? Look back to the resolutions you made on New Year’s Day. Did the list include putting your finances in order? What have you done in this aspect?

If, like many working Pinoys, your answer is that you haven’t done anything yet to improve your finances, don’t feel down. There’s still a little less than six months to go to make good on that resolution. And a good place to start would be with Pesos and Sense with Mr. Aya Laraya.

Pesos and Sense is a learning community that aims to educate Filipinos in the area of personal finance and investments. Starting out as a TV show on GMA News TV, Pesos and Sense now spreads its advocacy though seminars, social media networks and other media. The community’s resident Investment Advocate is Aya Laraya, who has over two decades of experience in the finance industry.

I was fortunate to have been invited to attend the first in a series of Pesos and Sense seminars. “Make Your Money Grow” was held last Saturday, June 30 at the PSE East Tower in Pasig City. The session’s first part focused on the psychology of investing: why people invest, who makes investment decisions and what affects investment decisions. The second part was a brief rundown on different investment vehicles in the Philippines.

In the seminar, Laraya stressed the importance of knowing your investment goals and having the right information before investing. It is not enough that you have the money to invest. This is shown in his investment design diagram below:

aya's investment design

Laraya presents personal finance concepts in a way that’s easy to understand. He makes use of stories and analogies that ordinary people can relate to.

pesos and sense aya laraya

This seminar will have another run on July 21 at the same venue. The second part of the series, Time Value of Money (poster below) will be held the following week, on July 28. I hope that the seminar series will attract a lot of attendees so that more Filipinos will start saving and investing. Be sure to attend these seminars if you’re serious about being on the road to financial independence.

time value of money seminar

 Facebook: www.facebook.com/pesosandsensetv
Twitter: www.twitter.com/pesosandsense
Youtube: www.youtube.com/PesosandSense
 
 
pesos an sense aya laraya
The blogger with Mr. Aya Laraya after the Make Your Money Grow seminar on June 30.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Please share your questions / comments on the comment box.