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New Overseas Filipino Bank to offer expat workers investments, financing.

Expatriate Filipino workers - a dollar-rich group of about 10 million people - will soon find it easier to invest in the country's booming capital markets via the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFB), which will be launched on Thursday, Jan. 18.

In a press statement, Finance Secreatary Carlos Dominguez III the OFB - the fulfilment of a campaign promise made by President Rodrigo Duterte - will open to OFWs financial opportunities once available only to more financially-savvy investors.

'The LandBank and the Bureau of the Treasury are exploring ways of mobilizing the savings of overseas-based Filipinos for them to invest in the country's capital markets,' Dominguez said, adding that the financial would will also provide financing to allow returning workers to build homes or start businesses.

The OFB was created through the combined efforts of the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

All obstacles to the opening of the bank have now been removed following last week's approval by the Philippine Competition Commission of the acquisition by the LandBank of Postal Savings Bank (Postbank), which will be converted into this financial institution for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Dominguez said.

'It's just a matter of the administrative integration of the bank,' he said. 'It's an administrative thing and all the approvals have been cleared away for the acquisition. You know, we are just fulfilling [Duterte's] campaign promise one by one. First, tax reform, then this new bank.'

Dominguez said the conversion of Postbank into the OFB will not only fulfill Duterte's campaign promise but it would also saved the institution from bankruptcy.

According to him, the DOF and LandBank are also planning to secure licenses in other countries with large concentrations of overseas Filipinos so that the LandBank can provide financial advisory services for them.

The go-signal - whih was given last Jan. 11 by the PCC for LandBank to acquire PostalBank - follows the approval last December by the Monetary Board of the acquisition.

In September last year, the President issued Executive Order No. 44 ordering the Philippine Postal Corp. and the Bureau of the Treasury to transfer their Postbank shares to LandBank at zero value.

The order further stated that the former Postbank will be converted into the OFB, which will be a 'policy bank dedicated to provide financial products and services tailored to the requirement of overseas Filipinos' and will focus on delivering 'quality and efficient foreign remittance services.'

The OFB was previously conceptualized as a bank catering exclusively to the needs of overseas Filipino workers but was later expanded by Dominguez to provide services to all foreign-based Filipinos to make it more inclusive, in keeping with the government's financial inclusion agenda.

According to Dominguez, the OFB will become a subsidiary of LandBank, 'the government-owned and -controlled bank with the most extensive branch network that will cater to the needs of the families of foreign-based Filipinos.' /atm

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 17, 2018
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