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BPI Mobile Android App – How to disable application permissions

BPI Mobile Android App – How to disable application permissions

bpi logoI’ve used BPI’s mobile app for awhile now and find it very useful for transferring money (to other BPI accounts) as well as for checking account balances.

Today though the app asked me for access to my phone’s contacts, SMS messages and memory (photos, media etc.)screenshot_20160526-150543.png

I have no idea why the BPI mobile app would need all of this access. It’s a banking app. I don’t want my banking app rummaging through my texts and pictures.

So I turned off the app’s permissions and it works fine.

screenshot_20160526-150547.pngIf you don’t want the BPI Mobile app, or any Android app for that matter, having access to critical parts of your phone then you can simply tell that app no.

Go to Settings, Apps, BPI (or whatever app you want to control), Permissions and then toggle off the areas of the phone you don’t want the app to have access to.

Apps are useful but these seem to be getting more and more invasive as the years go by.

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Review: Getting a housing loan from BPI

Review: Getting a housing loan from BPI

I’m a fan of BPI. I think the bank tries to offer innovative products (eg. one of the first, if not the first, to introduce internet banking in the Philippines) and their service is generally good. For my business I even use a BPI mobilePOS.

Recently though I got a housing loan from BPI and unfortunately it wasn’t smooth sailing. This was surprising as loans are  traditional bank business and you’d think BPI would have such a process optimized for speed and convenience while at the same time taking the necessary safeguards that the bank won’t lose money.bpi logo

It took forever to get the loan and the bank insisted we secure documents which were redundant.

The facts: My fiancee and I bought a piece of land with an existing townhouse on it. We borrowed some money from my family in order to afford the purchase. Complete payment was made and the title was transferred. The sale went smoothly, we had no problems with the seller.

After the sale we approached BPI and said we wanted to get a mortgage on our property. We would use the loan proceeds to pay back some of the money we owed to my family. I thought the mortgage would be a relatively simple thing as we had all the documents necessary to prove our ownership:

  1. Title of the property
  2. Certificate Authorizing Registration (CAR) from the BIR – The CAR basically says that all the necessary taxes have been paid on the sale and title can be transferred from the sellers to the buyers (ie. me and my fiancee). Title will not be transferred without a CAR.
  3. Real property tax (RPT) receipts from the local government unit proving that the RPT for 2016 has been paid. The title would also have not been transferred if there were still outstanding RPT due on the property.
  4. CENOMAR – Certificate of no marriage from the NSO that me and my fiancee are not married

propertiesSo, we apply for a real estate mortgage from BPI. The initial terms were for a loan amount of 6 million, with a loan period of 10 years at an interest rate of 5.8%. (Eventually BPI lent us less than this but at an interest rate of 5% for the first 3 years, we lucked out as they were having a promo at the time.)

First annoyance, several phone calls were made to me to verify the information I had submitted in the loan application. Once or twice is fine but I must have received 5 phone calls all asking me the same thing. The worst part is that the person calling to verify basic information had the wrong information! For example, one of the callers did not understand that we had already bought the property, she thought we were borrowing in order to be able to buy the property.

Eventually, BPI finally decides it has enough information (which it already had from when I first filled up their initial form, if they just bothered to read what they made me full up) and dispatches an assessor to the property. I meet the assessor at the house, everything is fine, he does his job and goes.

Afterwards I get an email from the loan officer handling the transaction. The loan has been approved. Great, I arrange to meet her at a BPI branch for the signing.

Second annoyance, when I get to the bank branch I find out that the loan officer still needs more documents from us before the loan can be processed. (Why didn’t she just tell me this over email instead of having me go to the branch.) Moreover the documents I was being asked to supply were redundant. As I explained above I already had sufficient documents to prove clearly my title to the property. Yet BPI still asked me for, among others, proof of full payment to the seller as well a certified true copy of the cancelled title.

I had already presented to BPI the original deed of sale where the seller acknowledged receiving full payment. Also I had presented the CAR from BIR authorizing registration of the transfer of title. With these 2 documents basically everything else they asked for was redundant.

When I complained I got the usual run around that it was bank policy, there was nothing they could do, it was BSP policy; it was the RDO’s policy, etc.

In the Philippines having a clean title in your hand is apparently not enough proof that you own that property.

Red tape - the bane of everyone.
Red tape – the bane of everyone.

We should just throw the whole Torrens systems out if everyone else keeps requiring other things to be presented along with the title.

Third annoyance, since I was speaking to my loan officer in person at this point, I asked a question about the computation of the loan. She couldn’t answer me. (To be fair after this meeting she did check and got back to me on my question. It doesn’t inspire confidence though when your loan officer can’t answer how your loan was computed.)

Fourth annoyance, we were asked to sign forms that were missing key pieces of information, such as the expiry date of the loan being offered to us. To be fair the documents we were signing were standard contracts and big companies often leave many portions of these standard contracts blank (eg. when you sign up to buy a condo from a developer). Still, this should not be standard practice. The documents I signed were incomplete with the missing information only being supplied verbally by my loan officer. Yes, I’m a chump though and signed the documents anyway as if I didn’t sign them there was no way for the loan to move forward.

Fifth annoyance, I handed over original copies of my real property tax receipts as well as the real property tax assessments. I specifically asked my loan officer if I would be getting these back (they’re important when you have to pay the real property tax at the start of the year). She assured me I would get them back. As it turns out I did not get them back when the loan was finally released. I was promised something and instead got the exact opposite. Gosh.

Finally, the process took much longer than I thought.  I inquired about a bank loan in October 2015, I finally received the loan in May 2016. Granted the delay in the first 3-4 months was not the bank’s fault, neither was it mine. The transfer of title was delayed because BIR got the assessed value wrong and then Register of Deeds wanted to weigh in on it so it took a couple of months for the bureaucracy to correct its mistake. Still, that it still took 5 months in 2016 to get the loan through is ridiculous.

I’ve gone on at length about this because in a way I do feel aggrieved that BPI was such a pain in the ass to get a loan from. I don’t think I’m entitled to a loan but I do think once I’ve established that I’m the rightful owner of the property to be mortgaged, that I have the capacity to pay for said mortgage, that the bank is interested in granting me said loan; then at that point I don’t think it’s too much to ask as a customer that my case be dealt with efficiently without making me jump through hoop after hoop after hoop.

Again, I’m a fan of BPI. I’ve had an account with them since I was a teenager. All of my primary accounts are with them. But honestly after this experience if ever I needed a loan in the future I would seriously consider other banks.

Most overlooked customer service person in your business

Most overlooked customer service person in your business

Most businesses take pains to instill customer service in their staff. There’s one position though that’s vitally important to customer service but which gets very little training in it: the security guard.

A security guard at the door is a ubiquitous presence in most Philippine establishments. They can be found at the doors of banks, restaurants, malls, shops, hotels, telecom stores; everywhere.

Security guards are the first people you see when you enter an establishment and most likely the first person you interact with. But most guards come off as surly and arrogant (“what’s your business here” demeanor) rather than welcoming and helpful.

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Nasty guards are a big turn off for me and I deliberately do not do business with establishments that have them.

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Using the BPI mPOS

Using the BPI mPOS

While getting a BPI mobile point of sale (mPOS) unit can be a bit challenging, using it is actually quite simple.

I heartily recommend it for any small business owner who’s looking for an easy way to accept credit card payments.

This quick run down shows the ease of use of the system.

  1. Connect to the internet (either through wifi or a mobile data plan). Insert the card reader into the earphone jack.

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2. Launch the BPI mPOS app and input the amount to be charged.

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3. Select card then select tap to swipe. Then swipe the card through the reader, like so.

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4. The card details will be registered on the app and there will be an input field for the customer to sign. You also need to input the pin given by BPI (to make sure an authorized user is charging the card) and the email of the customer so they can receive a receipt of the transaction.

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5. After all of that is filled in, tap next and a confirmation of the transaction will appear.

mpos1Using the BPI mPOS is straight forward and is an easy way to begin accepting credit card payments. It’s a great conversation starter too as customers are usually curious about the device.

In the US, the pioneer of the mPOS is Square. From what I’ve heard it’s a lot easier to receive an mPOS from Square, they give them out like candy.

Unfortunately though, Square is not available in the Philippines. Still, the BPI mPOS is a good alternative, it works well and I’m glad to have it as a payment option for Alcoves.

 

Applying for a BPI mPOS

Applying for a BPI mPOS

As a small business owner accepting credit card payments has always been on my “nice to have but hassle to get” list. A traditional swipe machine wouldn’t work for our setup since Alcoves has no front desk; we meet all of our guests at the respective units. Moreover a traditional credit card POS comes saddled with high fees which are hard to absorb for a small business.

The pioneer for enabling individuals or small business to accept credit card payments is Square, a company in the US that literally gives away free credit card readers which attach to mobile phones or tablets. You swipe the card through the reader and the customer signs on the device. It’s extremely convenient both for the merchant and the customer. Unfortunately Square is not available in the Philippines.

After some online digging I discovered that BPI offers a similar product, the BPI mPOS. So in the hope that BPI would be as easy to deal with as Square supposedly is, I inquired through their website. (A friend who works for Globe later told me they also offer a similar product but I haven’t researched on this.)

If you don’t care about the application process and are just curious to see the BPI mPOS in use, you can read about my experience with it.

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