1. The banking arm of my US brokerage firm has no brick & mortar locations. One of the greatest befits they offer is full rebate of all ATM fees anywhere in the world. Many folks may not know this but any foreign credit or debit card used to withdraw money from ATMs here in the Philippines is charged a P250 per transaction fee. Most machines allow only up to P10,000 / withdrawl. A few older machines from one of our banks will still dispense up to P20,000/transaction. We have a daily limit of P40,000.

    I think we could agree the bank fees are legalized highway robbery? While building our business ventures here in the Philippines, my wife ventured out day after day to withdraw the maximum allowed of P40K. If our bank that allowed P20K /transaction was out of cash, we were tagged with four P250 fees (total P1000 every day for days on end) to get the P 40K /day we are allowed!!! Outrageous. I guess it is clear what a super benefit having all those fees rebated is. A breakage representative explained to me that they could offer this great rebate befit because of the savings from not having “hard” locations.

    Another benefit my bank informed me about was that if ever I needed cash, I could walk into any bank in the world, offer my bank VISA card and my passport and I could get emergency cash. Sadly, only one local branch of the bank we use to hold our local business accounts has the machine in house to do those transactions. I was able to withdraw this way only one time prior to a vacation trip we took off-shore. For several years after that, I have been repeatedly told “the machine is broken.” Maybe the bank felt they could not milk enough fees out of us?

    I totally agree, that with all risks considered, digital banking will be the future of banking. I can honestly say that money transfer has become much easier for me over my eight years here in the Philippines. In my early days, I tied up some US dollars in a dollar account (at low interest rates) with my local bank. My US bank sent me fresh checks imprinted with my permanent Philippine address and I used those to write a check to my US dollar account at my local bank. That money would replace what I withdrew. Doing it this way, you have to keep the budget on track and know your expenses because the checks I wrote took “up to” 30 days to clear although it was often a couple weeks only. Inconvenient, but it worked. Still I had to take my US dollars to a pawn-shop to get the best exchange rates.

    It was humorous to us when in Cambodia a couple of years ago. They want US dollars for everything but the smallest of purchases. We loaded up on bargains and paid with a US bank note. The stack of local currency we received back as change was amazing!!! I was able to use my brokerage VISA card with no problems on that trip also.

  2. Interesting. Might shift some emergency funds into a CIMB account or other digital bank. Been hesitant because of the security issues. But the advantages listed here seem to outweigh that.

  3. Finally, we’re catching up with our neighbors when it comes to digital banking. It’s a very opportune time for banks to go digital right now because of the pandemic: fewer people outside, lower chances of contracting coronavirus. Hopefully, universal banks will keep up with the times because despite their size, they’re the ones who are slow to innovate.

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