Security Bank looks to pursue Japanese market

Among the first steps to be taken by the bank was to set up branches inside export processing zones in the country where Japanese businesses are currently operating, alongside offering financial products to "hundreds of thousands" of employees of Japanese firms based here.

"Prior to BTMU coming in, we were not looking at aggressively penetrating the Japanese business segments," Mr. Salcedo told reporters at the bank's head office in Makati City.

"With this BTMU equity and partnership, we now believe that we have a competitive advantage, we believe we do have a foot in the door to penetrate the Japanese clients."

Mr. Salcedo said Security Bank is already in talks to cross-sell consumer loans to employees of BTMU's large pool of corporate clients.

He added that the bank is also focused on serving the Filipino-Chinese business segment and the middle market as current sources of strength.

Security Bank's new Alliance Segment will be headed by Takahiro Onishi, one of the two directors seconded from BTMU since April 1.

The country's fifth largest private domestic universal bank in asset terms recently sealed a partnership deal with BTMU, Japan's largest bank, which increased the local lender's shareholder capital to P90.2 billion pro-forma as of April 1 from P53.2 billion as of Dec. 31, 2015.

BTMU Managing Executive Officer and Security Bank Director Takayoshi Futae said the Tokyo-based lender has no plans to raise its 20% stake in the Philippine bank so far, though noted it will "seriously consider" this option when given a good opportunity.

Mr. Salcedo added that the bank has identified five export processing zones -- where bulk of BTMU's Japanese clients are based -- where it is eyeing to set up shop. This follows its acquisition of approval to open a branch inside the Laguna Industrial Park in Calamba.

Security Bank currently has 266 branches nationwide, with the goal of reaching 500-600 branches by 2020.


Bank officials said they expect "no major" changes to their rosy business outlook despite the entry of a new administration by end-June.

"We in Security Bank basically feel that post the May 9 elections, business will continue to be bullish regardless of which presidential candidate will eventually end up as the next president," bank chairman Alberto S. Villarosa said. "We believe all of them are pro-business, and therefore it's the degree to which they will execute their plans for the country that will spell a difference between a higher or slightly lower growth rate."

Mr. Salcedo also said the bank will be counting on a robust pickup in retail lending which would offset "shrinking" gains in securities trading -- a trend seen in previous years -- to book more profits.

"Everyone wants to grow their income, and we do hope to be able to surpass last year's P7.7 billion," added the bank president.


Mr. Salcedo also said appropriate controls are in place to mitigate risks from money laundering and data breaches, following recent incidents that have rattled the sector and the country.

A review of the bank's systems against money laundering showed ample "checkpoints" to validate remittances coursed through the bank, in light of the case involving $81 million stolen from Bangladesh Bank that found its way to the Philippines through another lender.

The official said that adjustments have also been made to the bank's know-your-customer protocol following the leak of sensitive voter data held by the Commission on Elections: "We will not ask questions related to info part of the leak. We will have different questions."

The central bank released Memorandum 2016-005 on Friday ordering lenders and other financial entities to require additional supporting documents or personal details from clients other than those which have been compromised in the widespread data leak.

On April 20, the National Bureau of Investigation arrested 23-year-old suspect Paul Z. Biteng, who said he merely defaced the site to expose its vulnerability.

Source: Bworld Online