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House panel OKs bill on rural financial inclusion

A House of Representatives panel yesterday approved a measure promoting financial inclusivity and literacy especially to those living in rural and underdeveloped areas to ensure equitable access to financial technology.

During its online hearing, the House Committee on Rural Development approved the substitute bill to House Bill 7452, or the Rural Financial Inclusion and Literacy Act.

The measure seeks to uplift the lives of the marginalized sectors, such as the small farmers, fisherfolk, as well as informal workers by addressing the huge gap in reaching financial inclusivity.

It aims to establish a financial system that benefits all Filipinos, regardless of socio-economic status, and thereby contributes to inclusive growth and development, especially within rural and provincial areas.

Committee vice chair and Ang Probinsyano Party-list Rep. Alfred De los Reyes, author of the bill, said enhancing the capacities of rural financial institutions is crucial as they remain at the forefront in broadening the financial services to local communities through safer channels.

“It addresses issues on financial awareness, trust, inclusion, and access. This bill aims to empower Filipinos to be more financially stable and capable to pursue personal and economic development,” De los Reyes said.

To promote engagement with financial services and institutions in rural areas, there shall be an established proactive and sectoral financial and digital literacy program.

The program shall contain a basic understanding of concepts but will further allow for technical application in partnership with financial institutions, such as banks and lending companies, in order to acquire knowledge and develop skills to make well-informed economic and financial decisions.

The program should include the conduct of seminars and development of modules.

The bill proposes the implementation of capacity-building programs to improve knowledge of financial technologies within traditional banks, particularly rural banks.

These include mobile payments, online lending, block-chain applications for the banking sector, and move data processing to the cloud through expanding awareness of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas instructions on approved approaches to data migration and storage.*PNA

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