Bangko Sentral OKs 45 ‘branch lite’ units

Banking regulators have so far approved 45 “branch lite” units under a program aimed at expanding the availability of financial services nationwide, a senior Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) official said.

“So far, 45 branch lite units have been approved. Many are still in process,” central bank Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier told reporters in an interview.

Rules covering the establishment of branch lite units — basically simplified and more flexible bank branches — were approved by the Monetary Board last December.

Fonacier said the majority of the approvals was granted to microfinance-focused rural bank CARD Bank, Inc.
Branch lite units can offer products and services tailored to the needs of their markets and the BSP has said that these should not include those suited for sophisticated clients with a high tolerance for risks.

“Branch lite is a full branch but banks have the flexibility in designing the branch … there is flexibility in design and in the products that they think will best fit the particular area …,” Fonacier said last year.

The Bangko Sentral has said that the establishment of branch lite units would bring financial services to 570 cities and towns in the Philippines that have no access to banks.

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