Philippine Banks and Their Technology

Banks should be in the bleeding edge of technology. But in the Philippines, they might not be as advanced as we’d like them to be.

Take for example the experience I had while managing my account with BDO Online Banking. Every so often, their system requires password change.

Their password change page details the valid password that the system can accept. The third item says passwords must contain uppercase, lowercase, number and special characters. But then, special characters such as [!#$%^&';"] are not allowed.

My questions:

  • Why not allow the characters: [!#$%^&';"]?
  • Wouldn’t it have been more helpful if you enumerated the set of special characters I can choose from to use in my password instead?
  • I use a password manager. After copying my password from my password manager, why don’t you allow pasting into these fields from my clipboard?

My concerns may seem so trivial, but trivial things like these make or break a great online banking experience.

PSEi Levels vs. 2020 Forecast P/E Ratio

The chart below gives context at each Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi) level in terms of 2020 Forecast Price-to-Earnings ratio:

Key take-aways from this chart:

  • At 7,009 current level, we’re actually above the 10-Year P/E Average.
  • How I wish I had enough cash to invest in the market at its super-low of 4,039 points in the middle of March 2020.

Security Bank InstaPay Temporarily Unavailable

Security Bank may have been one of those generous Philippine banks who graciously waived fees for InstaPay transactions until at least the year 2020 ends, in order to accommodate seamless and contactless interbank fund transfers during this pandemic period.

 

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Instapay now available in Security Bank mobile app

We have our salaries paid through our Security Bank accounts. Since I keep funds in my accounts with other banks, I need to do fund transfers now and then. And Instapay for Security Bank would have really helped.

Today I discovered that Fund Transfer to Other banks via Instapay functionality is already added to the Security Bank mobile apps.

 

Security Bank transfer to other banks
Security Bank transfer to other banks via Instapay.

Apparently, this functionality is available only on Android and iOS apps, but not in the web using your favorite internet browser. Nevertheless, this is a welcome development, especially now that GCash disabled cash-in via bank cards starting July 6, 2020.

Currently, as the whole nation is still technically on lockdown, all fees for Instapay transfers for all banks, including Security Bank, are waived. When things go back to normal, this fee schedule indicates that fees range from ₱10 to ₱50 among the different Philippine banks. Security Bank in particular will charge ₱15 per transaction, which is I would say is not too steep. I would argue that would be a cost worth paying for the convenience of not waiting some 30 minutes should you need to visit a branch of your bank.

Update: Read: Security Bank InstaPay Temporarily Unavailable

GCash and CIMB, Are We Really Ready for Purely Digital Banking?

GCash and CIMB have been aggressively promoting their new digital banking platform they call GSave, with high interest rates (as high as 4% p.a.) to lure in GCash users, especially those they described as unbanked.

But are we Filipinos really ready for digital banking?

Not if there are still glitches in the service by GCash and CIMB. Last weekend, I needed to transfer funds from my GCash account to my bank account at once. I didn’t have have enough funds in my GCash account, thus I needed to withdraw funds from my GSave account. The debit to my CIMB GSave account pushed through, but the credit to my GCash didn’t.

That’s the big problem. People wants to keep some of their funds in regular Savings accounts to cover for their emergency or immediate needs. But if those funds are not available when they need them, it defeats their purpose.

So, to GCash and CIMB, if you want people to embrace this new digital banking revolution, you need to make sure the platform is ready.

BPI in a hurry to switch its clients to the new online and/or mobile platforms

I received an email from BPI today detailing how their old platforms, for mobile and online. will stop working by the following timelines:

Current (old) Platforms Current (old) platforms no longer accessible by
BPI Mobile app December 1, 2018
BPI Online Banking January 11, 2019

The new platforms may have some more security features, that’s why? But why rush your clients when STILL, you can’t do investing transactions in the new platforms? Are they even aware of that? That there’s no way you can add to your Mutual Fund or UITF accounts using the new platforms? At least that’s STILL my observation when using the new BPI online platform.

COL Financial and Bank Charges

This is disappointing news for COL Financial subscribers/account holders. It appears that when you transfer funds to your COL Financial account via bank transfers, bank charges will now apply.

This is because transferring funds to COL Financial for your further stock transactions are treated like bills payment, thus the fee. And starting this year, COL Financial refused to subsidize them. See notice below:

COL Financial Bank Charges notice.
COL Financial Bank Charges notice.

 

With the stiff competition in the stock brokerage business, I don’t think this is a good move by COL Financial. They better offer more value added services in order to stop account holders from moving elsewhere.

Philippine Banks Catching Up with Technology

Banks should be at the forefront of technology, especially in this internet age, delivering real-time data about their customers and their accounts.

The Philippine banks may not be as nimble in adapting the latest technologies in rendering their services as that of banks from other countries, but at least we know that the effort is there in trying to catch up.

Internet Banking

Disclaimer: I currently own Metrobank, BPI and Security Bank accounts, although I used to own PNB, BDO, EastWest and even Equitable-PCI (before their merger with BDO) bank accounts.

From my experience, the first to offer the most reliable (in terms of security, uptime, utility, and convenience) internet banking service was Metrobank. I have to admit, though, that BPI was able to catch up and in my own opinion (sans the downtimes that recently plagued their online banking) offer the best internet banking experience, especially when coupled with the convenience in managing your investment accounts via BPI Express Online.

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