Supposing there wasn’t any pandemic and you were free to go on an adventure in some remote area. All of a sudden, you run out of cash in the middle of your trip. What would you do and how would you react? Chances are, you’ll feel a stirring frustration on where to secure the means to get your needs.
But what if we told you that it’s possible to withdraw cash from sari-sari stores and other retail stores in remote areas in the countryside? Yes, you got that right. All you have to do is look for the blue and yellow Cash Agad sign, which has BDO’s logo in it.
If you’ve got a BDO ATM card, or even that of another bank, just present it to the person at the storefront, who then will swipe your card onto a point-of-sale machine (where credit cards are also being swiped). And just like that, you have your cash again. It’s just like there’s an ATM in your sari-sari or remote neighborhood store.
With over 8,000 partner agents (and counting) nationwide, Cash Agad also allows ATM cardholders in far-flung areas to check their balances inquiry and even withdraw remittances from their loved ones working abroad. Other Cash Agad partner agents include drug stores, minimarts, water refilling stations, pawnshops, and partner rural banks and partner cooperatives. In other words, Cash Agad service allows local stores to be everyone’s one-stop friendly neighborhood bank.
But come to think of it, Cash Agad’s real winners are the residents of those remote areas themselves, as they’re the ones who frequent these rural retail merchants. Having a service like Cash Agad in those areas starts the flow of money, spurring the growth of local economies.
Advancing financial inclusivity
“To serve the unserved and the underserved” has been the mantra of Cash Agad as it aims to promote financial inclusivity by providing an accessible and reliable mode of bank transaction services to residents in areas where there are limited or no banks or ATMs.
Cash Agad has been proven to be helpful and favorable as people do not need to travel for hours and spend hundreds of pesos just to withdraw the cash they need. It may have even helped in closing the gap between financial institutions and isolated townsfolk.
Based on the 2017 State of Financial Inclusion report by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the number of unbanked local government units (LGUs) decreased from 582 in 2016 to 554 in 2017, marking a 1.7% decrease in unbanked areas.
Fulfillment for partner agents
Sari-sari store owner and Cash Agad partner agent Alberto Fajardo of Pandi, Bulacan shared that residents in their area used to spend Php150 for a one-way trip to neighboring Sta. Maria just to withdraw.
Since becoming a partner agent, his neighbors, particularly senior citizens, DSWD 4Ps, beneficiaries, and government employees, have been flocking his store to easily and safely access their cash needs without spending so much on the fare and putting on too much time and effort.
Alberto added that it was a good thing to have Cash Agad in their community at the time the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Given movement restrictions, it was a relief for his customers to know that they didn’t need to go far to get their ayuda from the government.
Janelle Peralta, a partner agent from Muntinlupa City, also shared how Cash Agad helped residents of Bgy. Cupang, especially during the lockdown. The barangay’s residents normally commute to Filinvest South Station in neighboring Alabang, being the nearest ATM spot to their place. However, this entails a jeep ride and a long walk. However, the pandemic limited mobility.
“Very helpful ‘yung Cash Agad kasi hindi na nila kailangan pang pumunta sa Alabang South Station para mag-withdraw. It is less risky, easy, and accessible in our area,” she narrated during the Cash Agad virtual press briefing recently.
Partner agents, as the service provider, also benefit from the campaign as it also serves as an additional income.
“For the MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises), additional na income ito. Nashe-share ‘yung convenience fee. Usually, ang nakukuhang share ng partner agent ay 50 to 60 percent. So for every P25 na fee, P15 ang nakukuha ng partner at P10 ang nakukuha ng bangko,” BDO Agency Banking head Jim Nasol explained during the virtual press briefing.
“Also, we have noticed na sa bawat sampung tao na nagwi-withdraw, three to four people ay diretso bili na sa tindahan. Hindi na kailangan lumayo. It helps sa additional income tapos nakakatpid pa ‘yung tao,” he added.
Becoming a partner agent is easy, too. To be eligible for becoming a Cash Agad partner, all you have to have is a BDO or BDO Network bank account, a business permit, and a filled-out application form.
As the service has been a success and has been widely embraced by communities, the Cash Agad team is excited to move forward as they plan to incorporate bills payment and deposit features in the future.