Cash Agad is a service that turns community-based shops and similar establishments into a neighborhood ATM. It has been operating in both far-flung and semi-urban communities for the past several years, allowing residents to make cash withdrawals, receive remittances and government cash subsidies,make balance inquiries, and get access to calamity funds and loan releases.
An Access-to-money Story From Mindanao
According to Elsa Pardo, a store owner from Lantapan, a municipality in Bukidnon Province, Mindanao, until today there’s just one single bank operating in their community.
When the bank’s ATM runs out of cash or is in need of repair, people will have to wait and endure a few days without cash. Those who can’t afford to wait would have to go to the nearest urban area which is some 14 kilometers away. Transport fares can get quite expensive.
According to Elsa, sometimes even these other ATMs also run out of cash or go offline. In such cases, people would have to return home and go back the following day.
How much more when quarantines were imposed due to COVID-19? Can you imagine how difficult their access to funds was?
“Mahirap dito noong nagka-quarantine. Hindi makalabas yung mga tao. Kaya sabi nila, it’s a good thing there’s Cash Agad. Kasi mas madali na sa kanila mag-withdraw ng pera. Kung pupunta pa sila sa malayo, madami pang aasikasuhing requirements. Kailangan pa ng quarantine pass. Travel pass. Very inconvenient. Pag dito sa Cash Agad, malapit lang tapos makukuha pa agad yung pera. Sandali lang ang queueing time,” Elsa explained.
Cash Agad is indeed one example of a bank’s faith in the resilience and resourcefulness of Filipinos in the countryside. Elsa’s story is just one of the pieces of proof that the unhindered access to cash provided by Cash Agad is crucial to people’s life whether or not there is a pandemic.
“Financial inclusion in far-flung communities is a driver for economic growth. Some places are too far away or located in terrain that make it difficult, logistically, to build a bank branch. Take for example some islands or mountainous regions. That’s why innovative services like Cash Agad are a way to bridge the gap. As more spending occurs in a community, the better for residents and businesses,” said Jim Nasol, Head of Agency Banking, BDO.
The service of Cash Agad affects wider than the household of the card holder. In a more expanded horizon, when you give the people in more communities ready access to cash, the spending and capital flow increase. Thus the local economy lives, grows.
*It was BDO Unibank Inc. that first originated the idea of the services offered by Cash Agad.