Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trouble Brewing at Megalink?

Megalink seem to be very low key for the past several years. While Bancnet has been adding more and more services -- from online banking, to point-of-sale, etc., Megalink seem to have stagnated with providing regular ATM service to its member banks. And lately, those member banks seem to be dwindling.

Even Megalink's Internet payment system is operated by Unionbank's The Port, and not by itself. So while PayEasy claims to support Megalink for its payments, in reality, we are limited to those banks who signed up with Unionbank/The Port. And because of political reasons, not all banks joined the initiative.

In what could be the biggest defection to date, I read a news announcement today that the Philippine National Bank (PNB) has switched to Bancnet. PNB is the 4th largest bank in the Philippines based on assets. By moving to Bancnet, they have become its 50th member. PNB brings a lot to the table with its 400 ATM's nationwide. This effectively expands Bancnet ATM nodes to 3,778 according to reports. So that means PNB represents more than 10% of the total ATM's in the Bancnet network!

Bancnet ATM cardholders now number more than 7M. This includes the 2 million ATM cardholders that PNB claims it has. The numbers look strange though. A year ago, Bancnet announced they had 6M users. So if 2M was added because of PNB, why is it only 7M? Surely, Bancnet is not capable of filtering duplicates (ie. cardholders with multiple Bancnet ATM cards from different banks).

This announcement also comes at the heel of another recent defection by Robinsons Bank. Granted that that is not a very large bank, still, it does not bode well for Megalink.

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