I’ve been a loyal BPI customer since I first opened a savings account with them in 2005. I love their service and their online banking system. It’s easy to pay bills online and connect your savings, checking, and credit card accounts together.
Although I’ve been in the US for the past 4 years, I continue to use my BPI account for remittances–sending money to family, funding my investment accounts, saving some money, and paying online bills and subscriptions. I also use my BPI credit card every now and then for transactions in the US and when I travel around the world.
Towards the end of 2018, they announced the transition from BPIExpressOnline.com to Online.BPI.com.ph. The new website features a sleek new design and a more minimalist, elegant design.
Right now, that’s all the good I could say about this new service. You see, BPI just made it significantly more difficult for Overseas Filipinos to use their online banking system. Here’s why.
The One-Time PIN (OTP) system is great but ONLY if you have a Philippine mobile phone number.
I understand the need for security. Several months ago, I received my OTP by email. But they removed that feature. Bummer.
After wracking some expenses on my BPI credit card, I needed to pay it. Yesterday (April 1st), I logged on to my account to do so. I chose the savings account from where to draw the payment. I chose BECC as the bill I’m paying.
Clicked Confirm. And then the system asked to send the OTP to my PH Globe number.
There’s just one problem. I closed my Globe account last year because it was no longer working and I wasn’t going to travel back to the Philippines any time soon. So I no longer had access to that number.
Not so simple solution: Update your Mobile Number
The solution is simple, update your mobile number with BPI. That is, it’s simple for BPI account holders who are in the Philippines.
NOPE. It isn’t simple at all for overseas Filipinos.
Step 1: Call BPI’s customer service and expect to be put on hold for at least 20 mins.
I put some credits on my Skype account to call BPI’s customer service number +632 89-10000. Of course, I had to be put on hold for 16 minutes just to get to a live person.
And when a customer service agent answered finally, she told me that they have another department handling One-Time PIN requests. So she transferred me to that department.
Of course, I had to be put on hold again. This time for another 8 minutes.
Step 2: Talk with a BPI Customer Service agent who CANNOT help you.
Finally, I talked with another customer service agent. Guess what, she could not help me over the phone either!
She explained that she could take note of my new number but she cannot update it on the system for me. Instead, BPI will send me a mobile number update form, which I need to sign and send by mail to BPI.
Here’s an article which explains how to update the registered mobile number on your BPI account: https://www.bpiexpressonline.com/p/1/2176/update-registered-mobile-number
If you’re too lazy to open another link, I took a screenshot.
And that Skype option? They don’t reply when you try to connect with them. So no, it doesn’t work.
Step 3: Wait for the Form they will send to your email.
The customer service agent who assisted me told me to wait for the form within 24 hours. So I’m still waiting.
Step 4: Send the mobile number update form via Snail Mail or Courier.
This is the part that drives me crazy. I need to send a physical copy of the form back to BPI! For all I know this whole process could take a month or two. Meanwhile, if I don’t pay my credit card, they will hit me with interest fees and late fees.
But I don’t have any choice do I? I will wait for the form and see how long it takes.
Compounding Problems: I want to pay my BPI credit card but the system is not allowing me!
Most Overseas Filipinos who had been staying abroad for several years have this very same problem. If the payment is coming from my own savings account and into my credit card account, why do I even need the OTP?
Wait and See!
Let’s see where this goes. If I cannot find an easy way to deal with this, I may need to ask my brother in Manila to pay for my credit card. (With my money of course, he’ll just be the conduit.
Meanwhile I seriously hope that BPI starts thinking about ways to help empower our Overseas Filipinos wherever they are. Or else, the next time I visit home, I will explore options for a bank more friendly to Overseas Filipinos.