Digital payments innovations to ease financial deals

An insurance corporate executive considers digital payments as among the greatest innovations that help ease consumers’ financial transactions during the pandemic. 

In a virtual briefing for the launch of the Robinsons Bank-Pru Life UK Mastercard on Tuesday, Pru Life UK president and chief executive officer (CEO) Eng Teng Wong said electronic payments have risen during the pandemic as more consumers see their benefit in preventing the spread of the virus. 

He said the shift toward digital payments is benefiting not just the consumers but the companies as well because of their security features, among others. 

“The consumer comfort level has grown very, very fast. And based on my personal experience, the fastest innovation that happened in the entire banking arena is really in the payments space led by credit card(s),” he said. 

The Robinsons Bank-Pru Life UK Mastercard is exclusive to Pru Life UK policy holders and registrants of their company’s mobile app, Pulse. 

Among its benefits are free annual membership fee for the first year and waived fees in the succeeding years if the policy premium is enrolled in auto-charge facility, zero percent installment for three months on drugstores and hospital bills with minimum transaction of PHP3,000 and maximum of PHP50,000 annually, and exclusive discounts and deals on membership fee of active lifestyle and health and wellness products. 

Robinsons Bank executives target to issue around 50,000 of the co-branded credit card within 12 months, citing that there are already around 15,000 applications for this card to date. 

During the same briefing, Robinsons Bank president and CEO Antonio Sarte said credit cards provide Pru Life UK policyholders financial flexibility as well as exclusive benefits for health and wellness deals. 

“With the Philippines on the road to economic recovery and our vaccination rate steadily climbing, we encourage our customers to protect their health and their future,” he said. 

Asked about the impact of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) cap on credit card interest rate, Sarte said he considers this as a temporary hit on the bank’s profitability. 

He said the bank “just have to absorb it to help our clients…and adjust our own cost to cope up.”

“I think it’s a temporary hit on a lot of us in terms of our financial profitability for the credit card but it doesn’t make the product unprofitable. You just have to adjust certain things to make sure we can continue to serve our clients,” he added. 

The BSP retained the cap on interest rates on all credit card retail purchases and cash advances at 24 percent annually or 2 percent per month following the cut in the central bank’s interest rates to help consumers and the economy during the pandemic.

Its key policy rates were slashed by a total of 200 basis points in 2020 to encourage lending activities and help the economy weather the impact of the virus-induced pandemic. (PNA)