MORE and more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) now recognize the value of saving money, according to the SM-led universal bank BDO Unibank Inc. when it launched its “Kabayan” account, a specialized product dedicated to OFWs and their families.
Through BDO’s “Kabayan” account, families of OFWs can open BDO accounts for as low as P100 with zero maintaining balance requirement.
“We have been growing our Kabayan account holders for the past years, even their savings. It’s very significant. This is an improvement of how Filipinos now appreciate the importance of savings through formal financial institutions,” said Genie Gloria, BDO Unibank senior vice president and head for remittance.
BDO holds a substantial number of overseas Filipino workers’ remittance accounts or about 35 to 45 percent of the entire overseas Filipino market.
To sustain its lead, Gloria said they will continue to implement programs to actively engage and cater to the unique needs of OFWs.
“We are invested in people 24/7. We believe in AI (artificial intelligence) but if it deals with (hard-earned) money, we need a real person to talk to our clients. That’s what we are very good at. We are invested in customer service people,” she said.
BDO’s over 3,000 ATMs (automated teller machines) are also making access to financial services easier.
Recently, BDO, in partnership with its sister company, SM, honored Cebuano OWFs in “Pamaskong Handog 2023,” an annual tradition of paying tribute to OFWs and their families during the holiday season.
During the Cebu-leg celebration, the two parties brought together families of OWFs Kabayan account holders from all over Cebu province and neighboring provinces where exclusive perks were given to their families.
Pamaskong Handog which started in 2012 is a testament to BDO’s commitment to give back to the community, especially to the Filipinos who work tirelessly abroad to provide a better future for their loved ones back home, Gloria added.
Based on data, remittances from overseas Filipinos (OFs) increased by 3.1 percent to US$3.33 billion in October 2023 from US$3.23 billion in the same month last year.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said growth in personal remittances during the month was driven by increased remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more and sea- and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year.
This resulted in total personal remittances rising by 2.9 percent to $30.57 billion in the first 10 months of 2023 from $29.72 billion recorded in the comparable period in 2022.
Out of the personal remittances, cash remittances from OFs that were coursed through banks rose by three percent to $3 billion in October 2023 from $2.91 billion in the same month last year.
The growth in cash remittances in October 2023 was primarily due to increased receipts from both land- and sea-based workers.
On a year-to-date basis, cash remittances increased to $27.49 billion for the first 10 months of 2023, higher by 2.8 percent than the year-ago level of $26.74 billion.
The growth in cash remittances from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore contributed mainly to the increase in remittances in the first 10 months of 2023. In terms of the countries where these remittances originate, the US had the highest share of overall remittances during the period, followed by Singapore, and Saudi Arabia.