Banco De Oro expand m-banking deal

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Smart Communications and Banco de Oro Unibank have signed a deal expanding their mobile phone banking venture.

Jojo Malolos, head of Smart’s financial services group, says the enhancement will allow subscribers to its prepaid service – Smart Buddy and Talk N Text – to purchase mobile phone airtime use anytime.

Banco de Oro is the first issuer of Smart’s reloadable payment card. The two also handle Filipino overseas workers’ remittances using Smart’s payment card. Malolos says the Smart Padala – the remittance service – last year handled around $50 million, a significant amount for a nonbank but small considering the $16 billion inflow into the country last year from overseas Filipino workers.

Ismael Estela, Banco de Oro senior vice president for transaction banking, comments that the initial target is to get 250,000 of its 7 million depositors to join the program. He says depositors won’t pay a transaction fee for the mobile phone airtime use. Instead, Smart will pay the bank. Even then, Smart will still realize savings from the reduced transaction cost, Estela said.