PH Financial Inclusion is Improving

Global Dominion Financing Inc. (GDFI) discussed financial inclusion with Christo Georgiev, country manager and chief strategy officer of

Financial inclusion, one of the top topics in the southeast Asian region, is even more crucial in times of distress like during a pandemic. For Christo, it is about ensuring that even the most vulnerable members of society have access to financial services. It shouldn’t just be on papers though; it should be through surfacing effective financial products to the community.

The number of people with savings account is still relatively low. The ratio between informal and formal credit transactions is still not where it should be. Financing options for micro entrepreneurs and SMEs could still be improved. And insurance penetration hasn’t even scratched the surface yet. These are some of the points Christo and the interviewer shared during the discussion.

Christo, who has been living in the Philippines for 6 years, spent most of his professional life in the country. And his favorite dish, you ask? Adobo! Working in the country has been generally a great pleasure for him. He met with some of the most professional people in the Philippines. “I would say both yes and no,” Georgiev said when asked if he finds it difficult to be working towards improved financial literacy and inclusion. He also shared that the business environment of the country is not so difficult to navigate through compared to how it was in his home country, Bulgaria.

Bulgaria used to be in the same state like the Philippines’ when it comes to financial inclusion, about ten to fifteen years ago with half of its population having no access to bank accounts, with the number of formal savings accounts being relatively low, and with having real estate as the top investment option for many. Some of the differences between developed and developing countries, as he cited, are working national credit registry and income registry, which are supposed to help in having tighter population information for financial services providers in the country.

“There is of course always various degrees of challenges when we go a couple of levels deeper, and they are typically related not so much to the country. I believe government framework is quite well developed, in terms of rules and regulations. It’s more about the underlying and available technologies, I would say. And also to a certain degree the attitudes towards the fact that the world is changing, the economies are changing, financial institutions are changing – money is changing! And this has been where we could see that a lot of education is needed for us and also for the recipients of our services,” Christo Georgiev stated when asked about the challenges his team has encountered in the Philippines.

Formal accounts penetration in the country is only about 35%. “It’s not there yet. For the last couple of years that I’ve been involved in the industry, I keep seeing it improve,” Christo shared. “With twenty-something types of different IDs the Philippines, I think, is very unique, and this has been one of the reasons why so many people have to visit a bank branch to open a bank account,” he added with a smile.

“The biggest problem is the lack of information.” Christo pronounced. “It goes into the lack of information and education for the recipients of financial services and basically better tailoring the products in a way that they can use it seamlessly. Second, the level of information about those recipients of financial services who are dealing with financial institutions,” he added.

On the brighter side, and as discussed several times in all other avenues, new normal has made it faster for many companies to explore digital platforms, and use new technologies which bring about better access to financial services to the community.

With so much easier ways to open a bank account online, and even deposit checks with an app, along with other financial service processes being augmented by fintech companies, it is apparent that the country’s financial inclusion is on its way to becoming so much better.

Christo then went on to introduce how FinScore.Ph can help companies make outstanding credit decisions.

According to their website, FinScore’s mission is to provide innovative scoring solutions to the ever-growing needs of banks, financial institutions, and credit bureaus, becoming an instrument in promoting financial inclusion in emerging markets. The data obtained via FinScore’s platform is statistically proven to be more reliable, enabling these institutions to offer better services to their existing customers, at the same time attract new customers, and approach the previously unserved market segments. Its products are based on telecommunications data derived from 400+ variables (i.e., call patterns, location, loyalty, transactions, behavior, profile, and social circle) of the telecommunications network subscribers. The analyzed data provide financial institutions with critical knowledge and insights about the creditworthiness and willingness to repay of a particular market segment.

Important Note:
The purpose of the interview is to promote an advocacy for greater financial inclusion and not to endorse a company or product. Moreover, the views expressed by the interviewer and the interviewee are their own and do not represent the views of the organizations they are associated with.

GDFI’s Purpose:
Global Dominion’s purpose is to provide accessible financial products and services so that every family is empowered to achieve their goals and dreams.

Watch the entire interview with Christo Georgiev on Facebook or on YouTube.