OBVIOUSLY, there is still so much to be done before scores of Filipinos can join the financial, or banking, system.

Money in their hands is one major requirement. Next is financial literacy.

Consider that only less than 8 percent of Filipinos have bank accounts as borne by a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) survey; meaning more than 90 percent have no bank accounts.

They are the “unbanked” and there are a horde of Filipinos like them.

Of the 110 million Filipinos or so, the unbanked have no formal dealings with a bank, and many may not have even entered a bank.

Photo editing_Cloud20180916

Now, Visa, a global payments technology company; BSP, the Central Bank of the Philippines; Teach for the Philippines (TFP); and Tanghalang Pilipino (TP) have come around again to rev up their partnership.

Incredible success

After what Stuart Tomlinson, Visa country manager for the Philippines and Guam, described as “incredibly successful” financial literacy program in 2017 of the four partners, they are expanding it for 2018.

Visa, BSP, TFP, and TP launched their renewed and expanded undertaking to teach Filipinos about financial management on September 12 in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

Journalists and bloggers got an opportunity to watch a play titled “Lukot-lukot, Bilog-bilog” (Crumpled, Rounded) that promotes the objective of educating, making aware, and teaching Filipinos financialy wise.

The play was designed for the financial literacy program and revolves around what people “want” and/or “need” in relation with managing their finances.

Photo editing_Cloud20180916_2

Two students struggle to make decisions on whether they only ‘want’ something, or ‘need’ it in a play titled ‘Lukot-lukot, Bilog-bilog’ targeting the country’s youth. (EKU)

Do you need it, or only want it

“Is it a ‘want’ or is it a ‘need’ and I think if you don’t have the fundamentals of money management and budgeting and saving, then, you will gonna struggle between the difference of is it a ‘want’ or is it a ‘need.’

“And as human beings go, we gonna go more with ‘want’. So, what we are aiming here is to teach Filipinos the difference of a ‘want’ and a ‘need’ and how to manage their money and hope that in the long-term become more economically aware of how to manage their lives,” the Visa executive said.

The play features “Jose Rizal” and “Apolinario Mabini”, two students, and a grandfather. One of the students learned the hard lesson that spending one’s money because of a “want” will deprive a person with money for a “need” soon enough.

Tomlinson, after the play, spoke with some members of the media. He differentiated “financial literacy” and “financial inclusion.”

Financial literacy and financial inclusion

“Financial literacy is about education, awareness, and teaching. Financial inclusion, depending on how you want to measure it, is when you are actually included in the financial sector,” the Visa official pointed out.

He recalled a BSP study that showed (only) “7.8 percent of Filipinos have a formal bank account. So, that’s what you call financial inclusion.”

Financial inclusion, Tomlinson said, is bringing people into the formal banking system, through products such as check account and savings, and later on after they become more aware of financial services and more economically capable, get them into micro-insurance, insurance, as well as offering them credits to so they have the chance to improve their lives.

He hastened to add that financial literacy and financial inclusion have clear distinction.

“Financial literacy is teaching, education, and awareness; financial inclusion is to give people formal access to banking system or financial system through financial products,” he said.

Education leads to  inclusion

“The first point of financial inclusion is education. If you don’t understand financial products, then you are not gonna be able to avail yourselves,” said the Visa executive.

He said the first edition of the financial literacy program reached 6,000 students.

“We think it has been incredibly successful. When you do this program, you teach them what works and what doesn’t. We are very pleased with what happened last year and we think it worked really well,” said Tomlinson.

He said they got great feed backs from the students and from the teachers involved.

The Visa executive said the second iteration will give teachers financial education training, that is training the trainers.

“Our partnership with the BSP, the theater group, out of that, we are improving it this year. Not just the students, we will gonna teach the teachers,” he said.

To reach more people, Tomlinson said they are developing digital applications (apps) so that it can be rolled out to a wider audience in Metro Manila.

Last year the play reached 6,000 students, teachers, government agency employees, and the public in few months span and shown in Metro Manila schools.

Teachers to get training

For 2018, the program will include a teacher-training component as Visa seeks to reach a much wider audience for a larger impact.

“Financial literacy is a key area of focus for us at Visa and it also aligned with the country’s priority — to equip all Filipinos with money management knowledge because it is such an important skill,” he emphasized.

BSP is leading the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion for which the Visa-led financial literacy program is aligned with.

“We at the BSP share the same belief that financial education should be introduced very early so that we can prepare the youth for the real world and help them create a good life for themselves,” said Pia Roman-Tayag, head of the Inclusive Finance Advocacy Office of BSP.

Big task moving forward for Visa, BSP, TFP, & TP

The tasked ahead is big, she added, as she welcomed BSP’s partnership with Visa. “With innovative programs such as this, we trust that we can make concrete progress towards our goals,” Roman-Tayag said.

Patricia Feria-Lim, chief strategy officer of TFP,  voiced her group’s excitement in expanding its partnership with Visa.

“At Teach for the Philippines, we believe that programs that incorporate financial literacy, environmental education, theater arts, and academics develop our students for the future,” Feria-Lim said.

She added that TFP is looking forward to a continued partnership with Visa, BSP, and TP.

Nanding Josef, TP artistic director, said the scenes of the play shown at the launch will be used in class discussions.

“In these scenes, teachers will ask questions that will ask critical thinking and challenge the youth’s perception of money. We anticipate that students will learn from the material that we have jointly created with TFP,” said Josef.

Visa “connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions, and governments in over 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments.” (EKU)