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PNB to open 3 ‘branch-lite’ units by August

The Philippine National Bank (PNB) will open three branch-lite units in Visayas and in Mindanao by August, the company said Tuesday.

PNB executive vice president and head of retail banking sector Bernie Tocmo said that the three branch-lite units will be established at the Visayas State University in Baybay City, Leyte; in Hinunangan, Southern Leyte; and on Samal island, Davao del Norte.

Tocmo said PNB has already secured licenses from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for the three branch-lite units.

"Hopefully, we can open all of them big later than August. Pero were trying by June or July," he said.

The central bank defines a branch-lite unit as "any permanent office or place of business of a bank, other than its head office or a branch...[that] performs limited banking activities and records its transactions in the books of the head office or the branch to which it is annexed."

In December 2017, the Monetary Board (MB) approved the guidelines on the establishment of bank branch-lite units to address the current situation where there are over 570 cities and municipalities with no banking presence.

Tocmo said PNB's branch-lite units will offer products such as bank accounts with only a P100 maintaining balance to allow greater financial access to unserved sectors.

"After we launch the three branch-lites, we will definitely study in the last quarter if this is going to be sustainable... This branch-lite is still in the experimental stage," he said.

"We are the first bank to open branch-lites. Kami ang unang sumugal," he added. — BM, GMA News