The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) has announced its plan of strengthening its service’s IT and cybersecurity, which the company aims to achieve by increasing investments to P10-11 billion this 2021.

The bank’s newly positioned, President and CEO, Jose Teodoro “TG” Limcaoco, said the digitalization of the company will be a primary goal while he’s in control.

According to Limcaoco, he sees BPI’s potential in the digital banking sector – and understands that investing in cybersecurity and information technology is a must to solidify the company’s position in the market. 

“In general our spending has been about eight percent of revenues on IT and cybersecurity, and I wouldn’t mind taking it higher because I think we have a great opportunity to expand our leadership in digital banking,” he shared in a virtual press conference. 

Although the idea is promising, Limcaoco also acknowledged the difficulties that may arise if they pursue the vision. He assured that they’re treading ‘prudently’ and ‘efficiently’ to bring the plan into action. 

“However, we need to balance that against the realities of the economy and the profitability of the bank. It’s a plan that we are working on now that I need to take to the board (of directors), but certainly, if there is anything that we must do, we must focus on digital spending but prudently, and doing it efficiently,” Limcaoco said in their annual shareholders’ meeting

As BPI’s new CEO, Limcaoco said it’s his priority to build an inclusive banking network, which people can understand easily and enjoy using. He notes that digitizing will allow the company to acquire more data to accurately deduce the products that consumers will need. 

“We need applications that are easy to understand, easy to download, easy to use and actually fun to use. That is exactly what we’re trying to do in the future. Digitalization allows you to capture a lot more data, and you can be more efficient in giving the right products to your customers cheaply, and better,” he explained. 

Although this is BPI’s way forward, Limcaoco revealed that they’re not planning to apply for a separate digital banking license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). 

In November of last year, BSP issued a circular on the establishment of digital banks in the country. 

“You need to understand exactly what is a digital bank — it’s a bank that tries to perform all its services purely digitally and it will not have the legacy of branches and physical infrastructure. To that end, they have an advantage because they don’t have legacy costs or legacy assets,” he explained.

“Do we intend to put up a digital bank? The quick answer is really no, because we are already a digital bank,” Limcaoco stressed.

BPI – the oldest bank in all of South East Asia – has been upping investment in cybersecurity and information technology since 2015 – allocating P5 billion to P7 billion of its total revenues to the cause annually. However, as mentioned above, they plan to increase investments in that aspect of the company for this year.

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Image credit: BPI’s Official Facebook Page