MANILA - The Bangko Sentral said Thursday pawnshops are playing a key role in the pandemic thanks to the industry's network of branches which exceed those of banks.
"The pawnbroking industry has played a key role during the pandemic by serving as access points for the distribution of government's cash aid and by providing needed loans and financial services to Filipinos, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the BSP said.
The central bank noted that as of the end of July this year, the pawnbroking industry had a network of 14,416 head offices and branches nationwide.
This was compared to the combined 12,913 network of universal, commercial, thrift, rural and cooperative banks, the BSP said.
“With their presence in 1,338 out of 1,634 cities and municipalities nationwide, pawnshops are major financial service access points for individuals, small businesses, and social amelioration beneficiaries during the health crisis. Their network and clientele also highlight their role in financial inclusion,” said BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno.
The BSP said 68 percent of pawnshop offices operated during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). This tally increased to almost 80 percent when the ECQ was lifted.
Pawnshops helped process remittances, bills payment, e-loading, collection, corporate disbursement pay-out, and distribution of microinsurance, the central bank said.
Banks and e-money issuers (EMIs) also tap pawnshops as cash agents in areas that cannot be reached by the banks’ or EMIs’ own network, the BSP added.
Pawnshops with money transfer services are also tapped in the distribution of the government's financial assistance.
The BSP said panwshops also gave relief to their consumers by granting the grace period for loan payments under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, extending maturity dates, rescheduling auctions, crafting easy payment schemes and discounts for accrued interests, and waiving inter-branch renewals.