Why? Why not? What’s the difference?
In recent years, these questions have been asked about the merger of BPI and BPI Family Savings Bank (BFSB). Some clients have wondered about the difference between the two, and one of the cheekiest responses I’ve heard was: “One is Islands, the other is Family.”
The observation that there is less traffic in BFSB branches, allowing for faster transaction processing and more meaningful conversations, may be seen as good or bad, depending on where you stand. Many BPI clients have tried to deposit checks at BFSB branches, and vice versa, but they were just turned away. Disappointed, they are led to ask the questions: Why? Why not? What’s the difference?
Let us put things in context by revisiting history and looking at the changing landscape of banking, which has paved the way for the creation of #OneBPI, the ongoing merger of BFSB with its parent bank, BPI.
In the ‘70s, the truth was that the more branches you had, the more clients you could acquire and the more deposits you will get. This was the time when a passbook was considered a symbol of wealth.
Truth be told, the establishment of a bank branch in a city signaled progress and, more often than not, helped increase the value of property in surrounding areas. A bank branch became an essential part of the town plaza, together with the municipal hall, the church, and the market.
The Philippines’ 7,100+ islands require a vast physical infrastructure for people to be sufficiently served. It is no wonder then that the biggest banks also have the most number of branches. Having a thrift bank under the marquee brand helped large commercial banks tap into the mass retail market.
This was how things were until the arrival of the 24-hour automated teller machines (ATMs). This became the talk of the town in the ‘80s when BPI first brought them to local shores.
ATM cards replaced passbooks as the financial fashion statement, and the race for the highest number of ATMs began. For decades, presence — be it by building branches or installing ATMs — was the way to win in banking. The larger the footprint, the bigger the bank — at least until the pandemic broke out.
Online banking has been in place since the turn of the century. In 1999, BPI introduced online banking, followed by mobile banking in 2009. After years of encouraging clients to shift from branch to online and mobile banking, we finally reached the tipping point in 2019 when digital transactions surpassed the number of transactions conducted at the branch.
During this pandemic, digital transactions and the number of clients enrolling in digital channels surged by 15% and 90%, respectively. This shift to digital is a global phenomenon. The BSP reported that in 2020 alone, over 4 million new electronic financial accounts were created and that the use of electronic payments at the height of the pandemic grew by over 5,000%.
The volume of PesoNet transfers increased by 376%, while Instapay transactions rose by 459% year on year. The preference for digital payments can also be seen in the decline of coin demand volume (57%).
With the convenience and accessibility offered by digitalization, the way our customers interact and engage with us will certainly change. They will definitely do what they can do from the comforts of their homes, such as pay bills, transfer money, buy goods, and load wallets and mobile.
They will most likely visit the branch only for high-value transactions that require the expertise and experience of bank personnel. This may include securing investment and insurance advice, applying for a home loan, or packaging a business loan.
And so we are back to the questions: Why? Why not? What’s the difference?
Banking for the Future
The merger which we call #OneBPI is more than an exercise in cost synergies or capital efficiency.
The merger is essentially about changing the way we serve our customers because the way they bank has changed.
Rather than maintaining a large, high-cost physical infrastructure, we choose to invest in our bank personnel and harness their advisory capabilities. We choose to invest in technology to make more product offerings and functionalities available for our clients so they can bank online at their own pace and in their own space.
Banking with #OneBPI
#OneBPI is a rallying cry for our employees to deliver a seamless experience for our clients across all our branches and business centers nationwide.
#OneBPI is a proposition to our clients that they can expect the combined power of digital and physical (phygital) only with BPI so they can conduct their day-to-day transactions safely and conveniently, and their most important transactions confidently and expertly.
#OneBPI is a continuation of the bank’s tradition of leadership through relevant banking innovations and best-in-class service.
#OneBPI is a commitment to building a better Philippines, and it starts with a united BPI.
Join us in our journey to deliver the best banking experience with #OneBPI.