Business

Dan Taylor

Philippine bank brings blockchain remittance service to Japan

Philippines-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) is launching a new remittance service aimed at the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) demographic in Japan. The project, in collaboration with two other Japanese banks, will allow for faster and cheaper overseas payments, facilitated by blockchain technology.

Manny T. Narciso, first senior VP of RCBC, was quoted by Business World saying the service would be welcomed by OFWs sending money internationally, reducing transaction costs and accelerating remittance speeds.

“We want to serve the OFWs in Japan through this technology and we’re doing it in partnership with two Japanese banks…For the OFWs in Japan, [this] will make remittance faster and cheaper as we will collect less fees,” Narciso said. “You will not need SWIFT anymore because it’s expensive. Remittance will happen in real time, bypassing all the other parties.”

RCBC said the decision to launch in Japan was based on the size of the remittance market there, and, in particular, the appetite amongst the over 237,000 OFWs who regularly send money overseas for a cheaper, more efficient solution.

Naming Resona Bank as one of the other banks involved, RCBC is to work with IBM on delivering the platform. According to the bank executive, RCBC is looking with Resona, which it already has a partnership with, as its “first option” for the new remittance service.

Discussing their involvement with the platform, Narciso pointed out that RCBC was the only bank in the Philippines likely to be working on initial tests of the system, saying, “IBM has decided to pilot it with 15 banks around the world, we’re the only one in the Philippines that they included in this pilot test.”

Alongside RCBC, other Philippines-based banks are involved in their own blockchain projects. Rivals UnionBank of the Philippines are developing blockchain solutions for improving internal systems, as well as through projects focusing on networking rural banks nationwide.

One of the top 10 banks in the country by assets, the decision of RCBC to back a blockchain project of this scale has the potential to benefit Filipinos in Japan and domestically, as well as setting a new direction for financial firms looking to exploit blockchain technologies.

Philippines has experienced a rise in virtual currency remittances in recent years, as families of overseas workers started opting out of traditional remittance companies like Western Union in favor of cheaper remittance companies like Coins.ph, which makes it easier for customers to receive BTC on their phones and withdraw from a regular ATM.

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