Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Globe unit secures govt nod to expand remittance service

A unit of GLOBE Telecom Inc. has obtained regulatory approval to expand its remittance network using the telco’s sub-distributors nationwide. In a statement, the Ayala-led telco said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas recently approved the request of G-Xchange Inc. to use Globe’s sub- distributors as GCash outlets. GCash is an “electronic wallet” that allows users to send and receive cash and make payments—including bills, donations and online purchases—through text messaging. With the approval, the number of remittance-enabled GCash outlets rises to 18,000 thereby making it the largest remittance network in the Philippines. At present, there are about 3,000 GCash cash-in cash-out outlets nationwide. Traditionally, the GCash is offered at Globe Business Centers, rural banks, pawnshops and other remittance partners. Now, the service will be available in more loading stations including sari-sari stores, gift shops, pharmacies, Internet cafes, boutiques, food establishments, photocopying stations, school supply stores, bakeshops, rice dealers, farm and poultry supply stores, gas stations, multi-purpose cooperatives, cell phone shops, and various stores nationwide. GCash has about 1.2 million users and has an average transaction value of P5 billion a month. Ernest Cu, Globe president and chief executive said the expansion of its network would provide a vehicle for financial inclusion of more Filipinos. The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) recently released a study showing that 1.6 million active mobile-banking users in the Philippines are unbanked. The study reported that 26 percent of active users have incomes below $5 per day. On average, unbanked mobile money users spend $1.9 more a month. Rizza Maniego-Eala, president of G-Xchange said the expansion of Gcash would cut the delivery cost of remittances and access to various financial services. The CGAP report also showed that the average inbound remittance is about $300 and typically costs the sender between $7 and $15, or between 2.5 percent and 5 percent of the value remitted. In contrast, remitting money via GCash or Smart Money of Smart Communications Inc. costs less than 2 percent of the value.

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