CARD MRI marks 5-million client milestone

The CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) has reached a milestone of serving more than 5.1 million Filipinos nationwide, who have savings and credit accounts with the organization.

The milestone is part of CARD MRI’s 5-8-40 strategic direction where the organization aims to reach eight million clients and insure 40 million individuals nationwide in five years starting 2015.

“Our continuous expansion and innovation of services and the strong dedication of our workforce to eradicate poverty in the country made us achieve this milestone,” said Flordeliza Sarmiento, managing director of CARD MRI.

In terms of microinsurance, CARD MRI was able to insure more than 15.32 million individuals nationwide.

Bringing services closer to the poor

The new strategic direction of CARD MRI, according to Sarmineto, pushed the management to really reach those who are in the far-flung communities.

“We have opened more branches, micro-banking offices (MBOs), and unit offices in islands, towns, and municipalities where formal financial services are limited,” added Sarmiento.

CARD MRI also retained its NGO operations in all areas where CARD banking institutions are present. “As observed, few clients from our microfinance NGO operation are not transitioned to formal banking system because their respective businesses does not require a bigger financial assistance yet,” said Jocelyn Dequito, executive director of CARD, Inc.

Dequito further emphasized that those clients who were not included in the transition may avail only a maximum loan amount of Php150,000.00, which includes business and agricultural loans, education, and health loan, among others.

“Once their businesses become viable then they can be transitioned to our banking institutions that offer wider loan opportunities,” said Dequito.

Likewise, all the community development activities of CARD MRI, such as community health day and other capacity-building services, were brought closer to areas it is serving.

Simplified processes

To combat the proliferation of usurious money lenders, CARD MRI thought of a more simplified way of making its products and services accessible to its clients.

“Before, when you apply for a loan in CARD MRI’s financial institutions, it would take three to four weeks before the money is released,” said Elma Valenzuela, president and CEO of Rizal Bank, Inc. “Now that the processes are simplified, clients can avail loan the next day up to maximum of one week,” Valenzuela added.

Moreover, a ‘pay and go’ scheme has been rolled out by CARD MRI to its selected operations nationwide last year. The pay and go scheme means CARD MRI clients no longer have to attend the weekly center meeting. clients may leave their respective center houses once their loan dues and mandatory savings are paid already.

“Usually, when you’re a client of CARD MRI, you really have to attend a weekly center meeting. On top of paying your loan dues and savings during that meeting is the opportunity to learn many things from the discussion during the credit with education (CwE) session,” recalled Aristeo Dequito, president and CEO of CARD SME Bank.

To date, there are at least 45% total number of clients of CARD nationwide who are under the pay and go scheme. “Even if the CwE session of pay and go clients only happens once a month, the core values and guiding principles of CARD MRI have never been compromised,” Dequito emphasized.

Cashless transaction

In 2016, CARD started exploring the Core Banking System (CBS) to have a centralized system among its banking institutions. CARD Bank is the first among the member institutions of CARD MRI that embraced CBS.

“One of the alternative delivery channels that was introduced is the konek2CARD mobile application,” said Marivic Austria, president and CEO of CARD Bank.

A client who has a Matapat ATM or pledge savings account may access and maximize the mobile application through self-initiated transactions. There are also transactions that can be done through konek2CARD agents like cash in, cash out completion, fund transfer, and agent assisted payments.

To fully utilize the konek2CARD application, agents have been identified wherein clients can withdraw through cash-out transactions and pay their dues through agent-assisted payments. The konek2CARD agents are selected individuals, clients or non-clients of CARD Bank, who are given the opportunity to be a partner of the institution in providing financial assistance to every community.

The agent is also regarded as “Point of Service” where a customer goes, such as clients of CARD Bank, to make a transaction using the mobile phone and ensure the delivery of good service for the convenience of customers.

“We look forward to make all our transactions cashless because it is way cheaper and risk-free,” Austria concluded.

To date, CARD Bank has 15 branches in Laguna, NCR, Bicol Region, and Quezon Provinces that implemented the new Core Banking System.

CARD, Inc., CARD Bank, RBI, and CARD SME Bank are the four financial institutions of CARD MRI, a social development organization that is in the business of poverty eradication.

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