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Displaced OFWs find refuge in ‘Digital Livelihood’ opportunity from PH super app

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By Alithea De Jesus

Given the fact that a lot of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) had to return to the country due to canceled work contracts and some are still in the process of being repatriated in the coming months after they lost their jobs. While many remain uncertain if their contract will be renewed by their foreign employers given the challenging global economic condition brought by the pandemic.

Proving that Filipinos are really resilient, a cooperative of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) will offer alternative and digital livelihood to displaced migrant employees due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

With the number of repatriated workers breaching 600,000 as of mid-August according to a report of the Department of Labor and Employment, Ekolife Overseas Filipinos Worldwide (OFW) Marketing Cooperative – owned and operated “by the OFWs and families for the OFWs and families” – hopes to help in their transition back to their home country.

Ekolife OFW will be opening livelihood opportunities to both members and non-members of the cooperative.

“Our group hopes to extend as much assistance to as many OFWs affected by the situation,” Mai Dizon-Anonuevo, Executive Director of Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiative said.

The Executive Director of Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiative is the one who oversees and manages this social enterprise. “We see the digital course as the easiest and most cost-efficient way to enable our beneficiaries at the soonest time,” Dizon-Anonuevo explained.

One of the “kabuhayan packages” to be offered by Ekolife OFW to their beneficiaries consists of a mobile store and a handheld automated teller machine service called ATM Go including digital financial services through DiskarTech super app.

For his part, Lito Villanueva, executive vice president and chief innovation and inclusion officer of RCBC, he said.
“We have observed how RCBC’s digital products have become a lifeline during these difficult times,” Villanueva pointed out.

ATM Go has been instrumental in the continued availability of important financial services during the height of the lockdown. As of the end of August, it has disbursed over P3.6 billion to more than 1.4 million families nationwide using their Pantawid Pamilya Cash Cards and other ATM cards issued by other banks.”

“This cooperation with Ekolife OFW targets to deliver the same opportunity and immediate, life-changing effect to this embattled segment of our society,” Villanueva added.

ATM Go is a digital product of RCBC that uses a mobile point of sale (mPOS) device to facilitate financial transactions on behalf of customers. Among the services provided by the country’s neighborhood ATM are balance inquiry, cash deposit, withdrawal, fund transfer, and purchase of electronic load.

The mPOS terminals accept any prepaid, debit or ATM card issued by financial institutions supervised by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Meanwhile, among the items included in the mobile store are agri-products, processed food, and virgin coconut oil wellness merchandise.

Aside from ATM Go, Ekolife OFW is also tapping RCBC’s DiskarTech, the country’s first and only Taglish financial inclusion super app, as a payment platform for the beneficiaries’ new business ventures. Aside from mobile stores, the cooperative also offers livelihood training and packages for cafe and milk tea shop ventures.

Through DiskarTech, new store owners will be able to accept cashless payments through their own unique QR codes. The received monetary value will then be automatically deposited to their basic deposit accounts that earn a competitive 3.25% annual interest.

Aside from its deposit feature, OFW entrepreneurs will also be treated to a suite of helpful services available in the app, such as bills payment, fund transfers, telemedicine, airtime top-up, and purchase of gaming pins, microloans and sachet insurance, among others. Soon, a skills marketplace will also be made available.

Aside from personal transactions, most of these could also be disbursed in the service of other customers as another income stream in the form of “paki-suyo services”.

Interested OFWs may reach any municipal chapter of Ekolife Pook Tulungan to apply.

RCBC is one of the leading universal banks accelerating digital transformation in the Philippines. It was recently recognized as the best digital bank in the Philippines at the 14th Annual Alpha Southeast Asia Best Financial Institution Awards 2020. Its digital products include RCBC mobile and online banking, handheld ATM Go mobile POS terminals, and DiskarTech, among others.

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