Oxfam, LenddoEFL project makes it easier for people in disaster-hit areas, caught in armed conflict access financial services

By Ibarra C. Mateo

Residents of disaster-hit areas and those living in communities affected by armed conflicts now have faster and easier access to financial services to help them rebuild their lives.

A joint project by the global development organization Oxfam International and the licensed financial institution and software company LenddoEFL is to give financial inclusion support to people with no bank accounts living in far-flung communities and disaster-ravaged places.

The innovation also aims to support communities frequented by typhoons in Eastern Samar, and those displaced by the armed conflict in Maguindanao, where Oxfam and its local partners currently implement humanitarian responses.

The joint project also targets “the poor, underserved, and unbanked” in line with the initiatives of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Maria Rosario Felizco, Oxfam in the Philippines country director, said the partnership would not only provide more efficient registration of people affected by disasters and ensure financial inclusion, but also help boost local economies by increasing access to financial services such as micro-credit and weather-based insurance.

“We have seen how the innovative use of digital cash technologies has transformed the lives of Filipinos, particularly women from marginalized communities,” Felizco said.

“In contributing to their economic empowerment, we also amplify efforts in fighting poverty and increasing resilience in the face of disasters and conflicts,” Felizco said.

At least 1,000 farmers from Cagayan province who were affected by Typhoon Ompong in 2018 have benefited from the electronic “Know Your Customer” (eKYC) product, which is an alternative digital verification process to register unbanked and unserved people.

This means the registered farmers may now be able to access a wide-range of financial services, including savings accounts and loans from Philippine financial institutions, in line with BSP regulations.

The Know Your Customer regulations in the Philippine have always required face-to face or real-time online interviews to register new-to-card or new-to bank current account/savings account customers.

With this innovation, background of farmers will be verified faster and more conveniently using their mobile phone.

“With our end-to-end fully digital verification solution, we are able to prevent fraud, ensure Oxfam aligns with Bangko Sentral requirements and quickly and efficiently onboard beneficiaries at scale” Paolo Montessori, chief executive officer of LenddoEFL, said.

“We are proud to partner with Oxfam and help Filipino communities that need urgent financial support. Providing a solution to help disaster-stricken Filipino communities get access to financial services at a lower cost, faster, and more conveniently is a step further to LenddoEFL’s mission of financial inclusion.” Montessori said.

Data from the BSP’s latest Financial Inclusion Survey show that 52.8 million, or 77.4 percent of adult Filipinos, remain “unbanked” or have not bank accounts. Of these, 60 percent cited not having enough money as a reason, while 18-percent of the respondents said they do not have the documents required to open an account.

The initiative builds on the lessons learned from previous humanitarian cash transfer programs during Super Typhoon Yolanda and the Marawi crisis, which pioneered affordable digital financial services for poor communities in the Philippines.

Oxfam Philippines Image

FINANCIAL SERVICES TO COMMUNITIES: LenddoEFL CEO Paolo Montessori (left) and Oxfam in the Philippines Country Director Maria Rosario Felizco (right) during a meeting with BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier (center) on June 6, 2019. (Photo: April Abello-Bulanadi/Oxfam)

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