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RCBC sees prolonged virus hit

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RIZAL COMMERCIAL Banking Corp. (RCBC) sees continued asset quality risks as the challenging environment may persist for both consumers and businesses in 2021.

“Consumer loans will grow slowly compared to the past years. Customers whose incomes have been affected have started to become more conservative and understandably so,” RCBC President and Chief Executive Officer Eugene S. Acevedo said in a briefing on Thursday.

He said they have been hit by the impact of the lower interest rates for credit cards and said it is a “major challenge” they have already accepted.

Mr. Acevedo said they also expect that business clients will continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic.

“A number of corporate and industry clients will take longer to recover to pre-COVID levels,” he said.

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Amid these challenges, Mr. Acevedo detailed the bank’s continued move towards digitalization and sustainability.

“No more coal. Moving forward, all our loans for the energy sector will be non-coal. The entire banking system is moving into that direction,” he said.

In terms of operations, Mr. Acevedo said RCBC has been boosting its digital capabilities, including robotics.

Meanwhile, the bank has also frozen hiring and has downsized its workforce, the official said.

“We closed 66 branches in our network this year because we realized that at the height of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), 50-60% of branch transactions disappeared,” he said, noting digital transactions have continued to grow.

RCBC in July launched its Diskartech app which offers digital services, including bills payment and a basic deposit account that can be registered through an all-online process.

The Yuchengo-led lender’s net profit in the third quarter plunged 51.78% year on year to P892 million amid higher loan loss provisions and waived client fees.

This brought the bank’s nine-month net income to P4 billion, down 11.31% from the P4.51 billion posted in the January to September 2019 period.

RCBC’s shares closed at P19.08 apiece on Thursday, down by 0.63% or 12 centavos from its previous finish. — Luz Wendy T. Noble

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