Philippines: Smart, LandBank in Mobile Commerce Partnership for OFWs

Apr. 23, 2007

MANILA — Leading wireless services provider Smart Communications, Inc. (SMART) and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), one of the countrys top five banks, recently entered into a strategic partnership that will push for the use of mobile commerce in delivering fast and accessible financial services to benefit LANDBANKs OFW clientele. LANDBANK and SMART also agreed to cooperate in developing products and services to address the requirements of LANDBANKs priority sectors farmers and fisher folk, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro entrepreneurs, local government units (LGUs).

Under the memorandum of agreement, LANDBANK will utilize SMARTs mobile commerce platform, the SMART Services Hub, in developing new remittance and financial services and products such as LANDBANKs Cash Card. The SMART Services Hub is SMARTs global financial and telecommunications services model based on its award-winning Smart Money electronic financial services platform.

We are proud to mark yet another milestone for the Smart Services Hub. It is our pleasure to provide the countrys premier financial institution with our tried and tested, and highly successful mobile commerce solutions. We are optimistic that our partnership with LANDBANK will enable the bank to reach out to the unbanked and underbanked in the countryside, and around the world.” said Napoleon L. Nazareno, SMART president and CEO.

LANDBANK welcomes this partnership with SMART as it will provide us with more and better opportunities to enhance our services to our OFW clients. Combining the advantage of SMARTs advanced mobile commerce technology with LANDBANKs strong countryside network, will benefit our OFWs in terms of having a reliable, efficient and faster way of sending their remittances to their families back home wherever they may be, LANDBANK president and chief executive officer Gilda E. Pico said.

The partnership is in line with SMARTs efforts in promoting m-commerce and mobile phone-based remittances. Two months ago, SMART successfully launched the Smart Services Hub at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Through this platform, telcos and banks abroad can offer mobile phone-based remittances to Filipino migrants.

The remittance then goes through a clearing and settlement agency and ends up in the Philippines specifically, in the recipients deposit account or Smart Money-powered card issued by a partner bank like LANDBANK. Both the sender and recipient will be notified via a text message that the remittance transaction has been completed.

SMARTs mobile commerce systems are available to international mobile operators and banks and to domestic banks, enabling them to provide a broad range of secure data and transactional services.

Our mobile commerce platform has been designed to work closely with banks and financial institutions. To date, we have established mobile banking partnerships with seven Philippine commercial banks, Smart Money tie-ups with three of the countrys leading banks, and interconnection with the three ATM consortia in the country. SMART is also the only non-bank equity member of the ATM consortia in the Philippines, Nazareno said.

The linkages we have established with the countrys banking provide assurances that the necessary system safeguards are in place, and that the Anti-money Laundering Act (AMLA) standards and procedures are complied with, he added.

SMART, which marked its 25-million-subscriber-milestone this year, has been actively promoting mobile commerce services in the Philippines since 2000. These services include the award-winning Smart Money, the worlds first electronic wallet card linked to a mobile phone. It won the 2001 3GSM Award for Most Innovative GSM Wireless Service for Customers. SMART has likewise developed a global financial and telecommunications services hub model called the Smart Financial Services Hub (SFSH), based on the features and capabilities of its Smart Money electronic financial services platform.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of telecom giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), SMART is equipped with the countrys most extensive and modern wireless digital communications GSM network, servicing 99 percent of population. Of SMARTs 25 million users, 17.6 million are subscribers of Smart Buddy, Smart Gold and Smart Infinity. About 7.4 million are Talk N Text users, the prepaid brand of subsidiary Pilipino Telephone Corp. (Piltel).

In 2005, SMART launched the worlds first mobile phone-based remittance service called Smart Padala, for Filipino migrant workers. It also offers wireless broadband services via Smart Bro, a revolutionary fixed wireless high-speed broadband Internet service.

LANDBANK is countrys largest formal credit institution servicing the rural areas. It is driven by its social mandate of promoting countryside development by steadily providing timely financial services and assistance to small farmers and fisher folk, SMEs and micro enterprises, agri-business, livelihood, agri-infrastructure and environment-related projects.

The institution is present in all the provinces of the country with more than 350 branches nationwide and 6,000 affiliate ATMs of Expressnet, BancNet and Megalink. It has overseas offices in Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Italy, US, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait as well as correspondent banking and remittance tie-ups with local banks in over 100 countries.

To better respond to the needs of its OFW clients, LANDBANK launched in 2005 its Inward Remittance System under the Easy Padala banner. Easy Padala provides OFWs with total security via online remittance transactions, and ensures that hard-earned money is received simply by a click of a mouse button, anytime, anywhere. (Smart)

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