We all know this sad fact. Entrepreneurs and workers in MSMEs are hit the hardest by the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. To help in the economic recovery of the Philippines, BDO Unibank launched its Cash Agad service. It aims to provide quick banking services, especially in far-flung areas.
The Economic Crisis That Came With Covid-19
There are nearly 1 million MSMEs in the Philippines. But the present data from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) indicates that more than 50% of this number (around 525,000) have closed their businesses. This has left millions of Filipinos unemployed.
On the macro level, the Asian Development Bank said the Philippine economy had bottomed out in May or June 2020.
For the rest of the year, economic contraction is projected at 7.3% by end of 2020. Economic recovery is expected to happen by 2021, when hopefully, the pandemic is already contained. By that time, the economy is expected to bounce back by 6.5%.
What is the Cash Agad Service by BDO?
Cash Agad is a service provided by BDO to remote communities where residents have limited or no access to banking services.
Many faraway places in the country do not have banks or ATMs where residents may conveniently get cash. This is due to several reasons.
- Communities are located in distant islands where motorized boats are the only means of transportation.
- Some towns and barrios are located in mountainous or hilly areas with rocky and uneven terrain.
- Other communities are separated by hundreds of kilometers of vacant land from urban areas. They have no concrete roads nor highways for efficient travel.
These are just some of the many factors that prevent banks from building and maintaining physical branch offices in these towns.
Banking Solutions by Cash Agad
The Cash Agad service by BDO provides a simple, elegant, and practical solution to all those banking problems.
They have partnered with local stores and shops that are already established in the community. BDO then turned them into community-based ATM terminals.
The shop owner receives a POS terminal for use in transacting locally-issued ATM cards, whether debit or prepaid. Then, he or she facilitates basic banking transactions like cash withdrawals and balance inquiries.
Best of all, they do not only accept BDO cards.
Cash Agad accepts transactions using ATM cards from different Philippine local banks and non-bank financial institutions.
It’s a great financial service that benefits entire communities.
Being a Cash Agad Service Partner Agent
Despite the economic slowdown, the country has been observing signs of gradual recovery, especially in some MSMEs.
One of them is Krystal Bantic of Quirino province in the Cagayan Valley region. Krystal runs a grocery store in her hometown and she became a Cash Agad service partner agent last year.
Before the pandemic, Krystal said that she only had few customers availing of Cash Agad in her grocery store. At that time, people were used to traveling all the way to Candon City in the Ilocos Sur province. Though it is more than four hours away from Quirino, people travel in order to go to fulfill their errands.
The trip to Candon is quite far and the transportation available are passenger vans and the fare is about P200 per person.
From Lockdown to Opportunity
The pandemic caused subsequent lockdowns and quarantines in different places. This prevented the people of Quirino from leaving their town like they were used to.
Their usual access to cash from banks and ATMs as well as goods in Candon was closed off. But fortunately for Krystal, her Cash Agad service immediately became relevant.
She recalls that when the lockdown happened in their community, nobody could leave. All public transportations were stopped.
“People had nowhere else to go to get cash to spend on food and other basic needs. So more and more people came to my store not only to withdraw cash but also to buy essential goods,” said Krystal.
Krystal faced her own challenges as a Cash Agad partner agent. She was also covered by the travel ban so she could not easily replenish the cash reserves meant for withdrawals.
However, she was able to solve this with some planning. She either rented a private vehicle to go to the BDO branch in Candon or she would solicit the help of the local government to provide transportation. After all, Krystal had become a frontliner and essential worker. She was the only source of cash for the residents in her town and nearby communities.
Soon enough, practically everyone in the communities around Krystal’s store became her customers. Teachers, government workers, policemen, and construction workers depend on her store and its Cash Agad service for salaries.
Her store also became the official channel for the government cash assistance given to 4Ps beneficiaries. The cash release was done with the assistance of the local government.
Other Cash Agad Partners
It’s not just Krystal’s store that benefited from being a Cash Agad partner. Other business owners in the area, from other sari-sari stores, eateries, hardware stores, or wet market stalls thanked her for being able to provide cash to the community.
Local spending had become greater than ever because people were now spending their cash on local businesses.
“Krystal’s experience shows how the Cash Agad service expands financial inclusion in hard-to-reach areas in the country. The result is a boost to the local economy. Established businesses earn more. More businesses are set up. The local economic activity is revved up and eventually, there’s improved quality of life,” says Jim Nasol, Head of Agency Banking, BDO Unibank.
He adds that if the country is ever going to bounce back from the pandemic, it will take everyone’s help. Big businesses, MSMEs, and both urban and rural communities and their local governments should do their part.
“There’s a certain inspiration, a beautiful sort of hope when you see communities working together to rise up and recover. BDO is doing its part in helping communities recover economically through the Cash Agad network,” Mr. Nasol adds.
Do you want to be a Cash Agad service partner? Visit their website, www.bdo.com.ph/cash-agad for more information. Or you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.
Reslient Pinay Moms
Meanwhile, here are other stories about resilient Pinay moms in this blog. We do not let the crisis bring us down. Instead, we work smart to rise up and get ahead.
- Here are Tips for Creating Better Days for the Queen of the Home
- Read about a mom who gets over adversity in order to Get a Family Upgrade: Homemade Peanut Butter Makes it Possible
- Another Bacolod mom shows us how she is Coping with the Crisis: From Events Planning to Soap-Making
- The pandemic is hard enough for everyone. But this Bacolod Mom Helps Battle Hubby’s Liver Cirrhosis During Covid-19 ECQ. But unfortunately, her husband succumbed to the illness a month ago.
- Losing their business to the Covid-19 pandemic, this Bacolod mom got busy. Read her story: The Farmtory: Surviving the Lockdown With Tauge
- Together, they worked to earn and also keep their families healthy. Read: Bacolod Mompreneurs Distribute the M2 Health Drink in NIR
- Needing supplies for her family during the lockdown, learn How a Bacolod Mom Changed the Philippines with Barter
- In order for her to stay at home and take care of her son, she left her full-time job. Read about Mommy Cleth and her Homemade Kare-Kare with Love