Malaysia’s CIMB digital bank targets 4 million customers and SMEs in Philippines this year

04, Mar. 2020

Vijay Manoharan, CEO of CIMB Bank Philippines Inc., talks to the media about his expansion plans for 2020 at a media round-table in Manila on March 3, 2020. (NNA)
Vijay Manoharan, CEO of CIMB Bank Philippines Inc., talks to the media about his expansion plans for 2020 at a media round-table in Manila on March 3, 2020. (NNA)

MANILA, NNA – The local subsidiary of Malaysia’s CIMB Bank, which offers all-digital banking in the Philippines, will also be targeting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in strategic moves for further growth this year.

Based on its target, CIMB Bank Philippines achieved a "double-digit" revenue growth in the first year of operation, reported its CEO, Vijay Manoharan, who did not disclose actual figures.

As of February, the bank had 2 million customers using its services since its launch in January 2019. Its target this year is to get up to 4 million onboard for its app-based services.

To achieve this, CIMB will roll out “high value strategic products” and collaborate with partners to create strategic alliances in areas of e-commerce, transportation, travel and fast-moving consumer goods, Manoharan told NNA on the sidelines of a media conference.

“We want to do enough of 3 million this year. And since we were ambitious the whole of last year, we want to be knocking on 4 million. We really want to push the boundaries, and I think what the momentum we are seeing and what we have in the pipeline can get us there,” said Manoharan, adding that the bank will announce new partnerships when ready this year.

Last year, the all-mobile bank, which offers savings account and personal loan, partnered with various local digital platforms such as mobile wallet G-cash to offer digital savings.

Opportunities abound as about 99 percent of firms in the Philippines are small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which form the backbone of the country’s economy and employ two-thirds of the labor force, according to a study of Asian Institute of Management published in December 2019.

It also found that 40 percent of SMEs in the densely populated Metro Manila and the Calabarzon region, south of the capital, are credit constrained.

So far, there are only two major banks providing all-digital services in the Philippines. The other is Dutch giant ING Bank. Some brick and mortar banks also offer mobile banking in the country.

Data from the Philippine central bank show that only 34.5 percent of Filipinos have formal bank accounts. It hopes to raise the number to 70 percent by 2023.

Confident of the huge demand for digital banking, Manoharan said, “I think digital banking is in a high double-digit growth, and more and more people are demanding to bank in a new way.”

The CIMB Group Holdings Inc. is the fifth largest banking group by assets in Southeast Asia. It employed 35,000 staff members and had over 15 million customers as of 2019, according to its website.