Circular No. 273 (partial lifting of moratorium on opening new thrift and rural banks)


(enacted in 2001)

Circular No. 273 of 2001, issued by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), is pursuant to a partial lifting of the general moratorium on the licensing of new thrift and rural banks to allow for the entry of microfinance banks in the Philippines.

This circular lists the criteria for establishing microfinance banks:

  • Microfinance banks shall be either thrift banks or rural banks;
  • Capital of these banks should be owned by:
    • Private persons;
    • Multilateral entities;
    • Combination of both;
  • At least 50% of the bank’s gross loan portfolio shall consist of microfinance loans;
  • The capitalization requirement under existing regulations shall apply to rural and thrift banks; and
  • The requisite documents should be submitted for establishment of microfinance-oriented banks.

Finally Sections 2, 3 & 4 of the circular detail the following:

  • Exemption of microfinance oriented banks from the general moratorium on the establishment of bank branches;
  • Permission to existing microfinance organizations, applying to establish microfinance-oriented banks, to convert the existing branches into branches of the bank on fulfilling the standard requirements; and
  • Specifications of the qualification for the President, Chief Operating Officer, or General Manager of a rural/thrift bank.