Cash couriers on bikes bring banking closer to small businessmen

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 01 2018 09:56 AM | Updated as of May 01 2018 10:23 AM

A PNB Savings Bank branch is shown in this file photo. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Couriers on motorbikes have begun to prowl the capital's congested roads incognito, giving small businessmen the convenience of doing cash transactions without leaving their home or office, the thrift lender offering the service said.

PNB Savings Bank's Smart Courier shows how companies are adopting the on-demand transportation services that Uber and Grab brought to the mainstream in the Philippine capital, where daily economic losses due to traffic jams are estimated at P3.6 billion.

Smart Courier, which launched in March, offers cash and check pick-up, bills payment, delivery of cash withdrawals, pick-up and delivery of bank documents and conversion and delivery of foreign currency, said PNB Savings Bank senior vice president Me-Ann Santos.

"Your mobile phone cannot move the cash. One way or another it has to be picked up. It cannot move digitally. It's another service even though there’s digital," Santos told ABS CBN News.

The motorbikes are unmarked for security. The drivers, who are not in uniform, are outsourced from the same company that provides armored vans to the bank, she said.

Smart Courier is the first phase of PNB Savings bank's 3-year digital roadmap. The lender also plans to upgrade its internet banking app and use chat bots and artificial intelligence.

PNB Savings Bank is the first to offer the bike-riding couriers as a service, Santos said. The service is phone-based but the bank hopes to offer it via mobile app soon.

Likening Smart Courier to Grab and Uber, Santos said the bank hoped to give clients "the same kind of privilege where you call the driver and the driver gets to you and you get serviced."

App-based logistics services have sprouted in Metro Manila following the ride-sharing boom, with companies like Transportify, Mober, Lalamove and Grab's own GrabExpress.

Making transactions more convenient will hopefully build client loyalty, said Santos.

"We want our customers to be pampered, to be treated to good so that they won’t forget us and hopefully increase their deposit balance with us," she said.