What better time to hold our first-ever Philippines business forum than on the occasion of our 30th anniversary of being in the country.
Fostering the vibrancy of the Philippines within ASEAN
The business forum kicked off with a discussion of the key drivers supporting Philippine' economic growth. Benjamin Diokno, Professor, University of the Philippines School of Economics & Former Secretary of Budget and Management of the Philippines Administration, noted that with 1.1 million people joining the work force annually, in order for Philippines to be on top of its game the government needs to prioritise well and invest in all types of public infrastructure. As Zelda Anthony, head of ASEAN explains, “The amount of people coming into the work force and growing their own incomes creates opportunities for SWIFT within the domestic market. The size of these markets is impressive for our future growth – and the same goes for Indonesia, which has a total population of 250 million.”
Raes also commented on the current opportunities for the Philippines’ financial community: “The Philippines’ output growth is outpacing the rest of Asia and while the Philippines’ south-east Asian neighbours depend heavily on exports, household consumption creates nearly two-third of GDP in the Philippines. There are huge future opportunities for the banking system, as the real source of growth for the country’s banks lie in the large, and largely unbanked population.“ Alain Raes, Chief Executive, Asia Pacific & EMEA, SWIFT.
Transformation of payment & settlement systems in ASEAN
Chris Flanagan, Head of Markets & Initiatives, Asia Pacific, SWIFT spoke on the transformation of payment and settlement systems in ASEAN. He noted that regionalisation, real-time innovation, renminbi, resiliency and regulatory developments are high on the agenda of payment systems today. He also highlighted the importance of banks to be ISO20022 ready as they continue to build towards ASEAN integration and reminded them that SWIFT is ready to help the community achieve this goal.
The age of compliance and risk
Atty Mel Georgie B. Racela, Deputy Director, Anti-Money Laundering Specialist Group, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas noted that as the Philippines becomes more integrated within ASEAN, compliance will become even more important.
The age of cash and trade
Alan Wong, Director & Head of F.I. Trade Product of North Asia Global Trade & Supply Chain Finance at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said that corporates are actively seeking for a seamless system not limited to BPO, but a holistic package that the banks could offer to their corporate clients. Mr Wong, however, showed he is a champion for BPO and the Trade Services Utility: “The most important thing to consider is to ask yourself who are you targeting; second, making sure that your legal documentation needs to be vetted by your legal consul; and third, make sure your sales personnel are well trained to highlight the value proposition of BPO!” Alan K. Wong, Director & Head of F.I. Trade Product, North Asia Global Trade & Supply Chain Finance, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Celebrating 30 years of collaboration in the Philippines
Following the interactive work sessions, the SWIFT Business Forum Philippines 2014 concluded with a celebratory lunch to mark the 30 years of collaboration between SWIFT and the Philippines community. We were especially honoured to have former Prime Minister Cesar Virata, Director and Corporate Vice Chairman, RCBC give a speech in our honour, where he noted: the pioneering move for the Philippines to adopt SWIFT for our RTGS network three decades ago has proven immeasurable benefits to the Philippine economy. With a faster, more secure settlement method and the capacity to accommodate future growth in financial payment changes, I look forward to SWIFT continuing its role as a key enabler for the development of the Philippines financial system.”
Isabelita M. Papa, SWIFT Philippines User Group Chairperson and Executive Vice President, Asia United Bank Corporation, who was a major supporter of this event and a true national champion of SWIFT’s role in supporting the local market, reinforced the importance of the partnership that SWIFT and the Philippines has built together through decades of collaboration: “30 years of SWIFT in the Philippines has certainly aided in the country’s banking operations. With ASEAN integration coming close to reality in 2015, the Philippines will be one of the countries that will largely benefit from the market integration efforts that SWIFT has collaborated on, enabled and supported.” Isabelita M. Papa, SWIFT Philippines User Group Chairperson and Executive Vice President, Asia United Bank Corporation.