RCBC Enables Countryside Digitalization Through SynerFi Open Finance Network

By The Philippine Business & News

Barely two days after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) released the Open Finance Framework, the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) has rolled out an enabling digitalization initiative with a new partnership with the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines for the SynerFi Open Finance Network.

The BSP’s Open Finance Framework’s main premise is consent-driven data portability, interoperability and collaborative partnerships between financial institutions and financial technology (fintech) players.

The SynerFi Open Finance Network, which stands for Synergy in Finance, marks another milestone in the RCBC’s mission to push for financial inclusion and digital acceleration. Through the SynerFi, member banks of the RBAP and eventually, cooperatives, microfinance institutions, and other industry players will be able to set up their own digital financial inclusion platforms to cater to their respective customers. 

“Open banking is ushering an era of productive collaboration between banks, non-banks, fintechs and consumers, as compared to the outdated model of competition among banks, serving a market where products and services are definitive rather than responsive. Banking as a Service or BaaS digital platform is truly a welcome concerted effort from RCBC and the rural banking industry.” said BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno.

The recently launched BSP guidelines sets the standard in the way financial institutions acquire, secure, and manage customer-permissioned data which industry players can maximize in order to create products and services that will promote greater financial inclusion and more sustainable digital acceleration. 

“We are accelerating financial inclusion in the countryside by democratizing digital transformation in partnership with rural banks, cooperatives, microfinance institutions and other non-bank financial players. Coping with this disruption is through coopetition under an open banking regime. There is indeed a synergy in finance among like-minded industry players who share our goal of pushing for financial inclusion,” said RCBC President and CEO Eugene Acevedo.

“Open banking is the “Bluetooth” in future-driven sustainable digital finance where our industry partners co-create value for the Filipino customers. With our collective passion and purpose, we commit to continuously deliver innovations for greater interoperability and inclusive prosperity,” said RCBC Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer Lito Villanueva.

For decades, the rural banks have been a reliable partner for customers from the countryside: from farmers to fisherfolk and other low-income and rural workers who want to fund their livelihood and at the same time, save up for their future. With their rich knowledge of their locality and their harmonious relationship with the communities they serve, the rural banks are a perfect partner for customers from the underserved segments. 

“Our intimate knowledge of our own communities enriched by our personal approach to customers provide valuable insights when it comes to customer preferences. This untapped and underserved segment of the population forms the backbone of our country’s recovery from the pandemic, and we are excited to bring our expertise on this matter moving forward,” said RBAP President Elizabeth Carlos-Timbol.

The partnership between RCBC and RBAP for SynerFi is set to enhance banking interoperability in the country as it promotes the open finance framework that aligns well with the BSP’s twin goals of generating 50 percent of financial transactions to digital, and converting 70 percent of adult Filipinos to be part of the formal financial system by end of 2023 under its Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap.

“This initiative levels the playing field where all participants, regardless of size, reach, and technology know-how will now be able to cope up with the pace of massive digitalization amid the pandemic. With SynerFi, no small player will be left behind,” Villanueva added.

RCBC is one of the leading universal banks accelerating digital transformation in the Philippines. It was judged as the Philippines’ best retail bank in the 2021 Global Banking and Finance Review Awards. It is also the best digital bank for Business Tabloid in 2021 and by the Asiamoney and the Alpha Southeast Asia in 2020, among other global and regional recognitions. It is also the first local universal bank to have the most extensive reach with registered customers from across all 81 provinces nationwide through its mobile apps RCBC Mobile and DiskarTech. Its digital products include RCBC mobile and online banking, handheld ATM Go mobile point-of-sale terminals, and DiskarTech, among others. DiskarTech was recognized as the 2020 breakout finance app in the country by App Annie, a global data analytics firm covering all mobile applications worldwide.

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