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Philippines' best domestic bank 2020: BDO Unibank

BDO Unibank

The two key questions facing banks around the world at the moment are how well have they endured the coronavirus, and what they have done to help their customers survive. BDO Unibank, under the watch of president and chief executive Nestor Tan, scores well on both counts.

The pandemic has been particularly hard on the Philippines, infecting almost 200,000 people by late August and battering the economy. BDO Unibank joined other banks in waiving fees for digital InstaPay transactions until at least the end of September. It has also worked with clients to restructure debt and allow for longer repayment plans.

Among the most popular products for the bank are cash terminals that merchants can use to give customers access to cash in remote areas where there are no banks or ATMs available. BDO Unibank has about 8,000 terminals operating around the country; their use has almost doubled in the last year as customers have needed alternative banking options during lockdown.

Nestor V Tan, President & CEO, BDO Unibank.jpg
Nestor Tan, BDO Unibank

As the pandemic continues its barrage on the Philippines, banks face threats to their own stability as well. For BDO Unibank, that meant reporting its first loss in more than a decade. It made a net loss of P4.5 billion ($93 million) for the second quarter of 2020, compared to a profit of P10.4 billion the previous year. The bank has been able to reopen almost all of its branches, providing company transport for staff to get to work, but as of early August, it was operating at about 60% to 80% of its pre-pandemic level, according to a source at the bank.

The good news is that BDO still has a strong base to work with. It reported a record net income of P119.9 billion in 2019, and P33 billion in the first quarter of 2020. Despite having to scale down its operations because of the lockdown in March, BDO’s total deposits increased 9% in the first quarter and customer loans grew 11% during the same time period.

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