Bantayan Island, known for its crystal-clear waters and long stretch of powdery white sand, is considered one of the tropical attractions of the Philippines. It is accessible via a 2-hour land trip from Cebu City, plus a one-hour ferry ride from Hagnaya Port in northern Cebu.
The long trips to and from the island, however, have restricted the exploration of its beauty and other offerings. Island residents too, choose to stay within the confines of the territory, limiting their financial and social activities, and virtually isolating them from the Philippine mainland.
But that situation is fast changing now that the country’s leading wireless services provider—Smart, has built the first Smart Money Center in the island, enabling its residents to avail of affordable mobile financial services. This is made possible by Smart’s award-winning Smart Money platform—the world’s first reloadable payment card linked to a mobile phone.
Under its Island Activations Program (IAP), Smart partnered with the First Consolidated Cooperative Along Tañon Seaboards (FCCT) to put up Smart Money Centers in far-flung areas of Cebu, including Madridejos, Bantayan Island. The Smart Money Center provides island residents with a safe, accessible and affordable way to send and receive cash remittances, all with a few clicks on a Smart mobile phone.
Today, Bantayan folk need not take tiring boat and bus rides to remit cash through mainland banks and remittance centers. All they have to do is simply go to the FCCT Smart Money Center to send money to their friends and loved ones anywhere in the Philippines. They may also receive cash transfers from another Smart Money account holder or from the wide network Smart remittance partners here and around the world. Through the Smart Money Center, island residents may also settle bills and make mobile payments, with just a few clicks on a Smart mobile phone. All transactions are done at the speed of a text message.
The IAP is a GSMA-backed initiative launched by Smart in partnership with Seed Finance to roll-out mobile financial services to remote, underserved Philippine islands that have limited or no access to banks. FCCT is one of the 46 microfinance institutions (MFI) supported by the IAP. (from a press release)