Launch of mobile app for RTBs lauded

July 23, 2020
Carlos Dominguez III

Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III led the launching last week of the country’s first mobile application that would enable small investors to conveniently purchase retail treasury bonds and redeem these investments through electronic payment channels using their smartphones and other similar devices.

The launching of the Bonds.PH mobile app was made possible by the Union Bank of the Philippines in its capacity as Joint Issue Manager and Selling Agent, and in partnership with the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange.

These RTBs, dubbed the PROGRESO Bonds, are now being offered to small investors via the mobile app and through banks (over-the-counter or through online banking) in multiples of P5,000.

The July 16 auction of the PROGRESO bonds was set with an annual fixed interest rate of 2.625 percent, payable every quarter, with a maturity date on Aug. 12, 2025.

The PROGRESO bond issuance forms part of the government’s 2020 funding program, National Treasurer Rosalia De Leon said.

The  offering is the 24th RTB issued by the BTr and the seventh under the Duterte administration.

With De Leon and Justo Ortiz of UnionBank, Dominguez led a live demonstration of the use of the Bonds PH app by buying P5,000-worth of “RTB 24” on his mobile phone.

He said making the buying and selling of PROGRESO bonds available through the app serves to further expand financial inclusion among Filipinos while also helping the government raise funds for its Covid-19 response efforts and for programs to prepare the economy for a strong recovery.

Bangko Sentral Gov. Benjamin Diokno and acting Socio-economic Planning Sec. Karl Kendrick Chua joined the Finance chief via Zoom in being among the first users of the mobile application by also investing in RTB 24.

The Bonds PH app can be downloaded on both Android devices via Google Play and IOS devices via the Apple App Store.

This app can accept an investment for as low as P5,000 and offers a wide array of electronic payment channels such as Instapay, PESONet, GCash, and Paymaya, the BTr said.

The Bonds PH app is completely digital, available 24/7 and accessible to Filipinos from anywhere in the world.

Aside from the PROGRESO bond auction, the BTr also announced a “switch” offer that would allow investors of specific bonds maturing in 2020 and 2021 to shift to RTB 24 at no extra cost.

The total outstanding amount of bonds eligible for the switch is about P321 billion.

For investors purchasing RTBs through the Bonds PH app, the interest from their investments would go directly to their electronic wallet in the app.

They can also redeem their investments through the app even prior to the maturity date.

RTBs are medium- to long-term investments that pay higher interest rates than time deposits and are virtually risk- and default- free because they are direct, unconditional and general obligations of the Republic of the Philippines.

RTBs offer fixed quarterly interest income compared to other financial instruments.

The offer period for the PROGRESO bonds started July 16, and would end on Aug. 7, 2020, with the BTr having the discretion to cut the offer period short once it gets sufficient volume from the sale.

Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, First Metro Investment Corp., PNB Capital and Investment Corp., Chinabank Capital Corp., SB Capital Investment Corp., RCBC Capital Corp., BdO Capital, BPI Capital Corp., and UnionBank are the issue managers for the PROGRESO bonds.

The BTr is set to hold online briefings for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, as well as targeted briefings for institutional investors such as cooperatives, insurance funds, and other groups targeting small investors to drum up interest for the PROGRESO bonds.

Online briefings for overseas Filipino workers in areas such as New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Hongkong, Singapore, Middle East, the Caribbean, and Brunei will also be conducted by the BTr for the PROGRESO bonds.

The BTR’s last RTB issuance was done last February, raising P250 billion in new money and P60 billion through “switch” offers for three-year RTBs.