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Villarica Pawnshop, one of the country’s leading pawnshop operators, posted declines in revenues in all its services in 2020 except remittance, according to a report by Manila Bulletin.
Without revealing the actual figure, Villarica Pawnshop Vice-President for Operations Lester Villarica told Business Bulletin that loans dropped by 13.5 percent and foreign exchange declined by a hefty 35.23 percent. Redemption of pledges at the pawnshop also went down by 15.59 percent.
The only pawnshop services product that went up was remittance, which grew 17.69 percent in 2020 versus 201.
Villarica attributed the significant increase in the remittance service to the government’s “ayuda” or subsidy program to the most vulnerable segment of the society during the pandemic.
Pawnshops have been tapped by the government in the disbursement of “ayuda” to be able to reach the unbanked beneficiaries.
Aside from the government remittances, Villarica also noted that there was no let up in the remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who must have hiked their allotments to their loved ones in the Philippines as most Filipinos experienced reduced income as the quarantine restrictions rendered millions of daily wage earners jobless at the height of the pandemic.
Pawshops and remittance centers were among the economic sectors that were allowed to operate during the lockdowns.
According to Villarica, they responded to the need of the times to help their clients.
“We guarantee fair appraisal for pledge loans, in fact the highest appraisal rates in the country today,” he said.
As pawnshop operator, stories of financial difficulties among its clients abound. During the pandemic, Villarica said stories of people losing their jobs and looking for new opportunities were common.
Hence, Villarica has called on clients to start investing on themselves, and in their dreams to start their own small business with the help of pawnshops.
At the same time, he urged Filipinos to change the way they look at pawnshops.
“We want the Filipino people to know that we are here to serve and be a partner in hard times that they can even come to us for funding, even as seed capital for a small business, be an entrepreneur like an online seller,” said Villarica.
He explained that the purpose of the pawnshop industry has been transformed, especially during the pandemic. Pawnshops have become quick access locations for cash in areas that have remained unserved by banks and traditional institutions.
Some pawnshops, like Villarica, have also partnered with banks for more convenient financial access by Filipinos wherever they may be, even for quick capital for their business as well as local and international cash remittances from their loved ones abroad.
Villarica has also become an access point for bills payment, point-of-sale withdrawal, auctioned jewelry selling and even mobile phone and internet service loading on top of the traditional services of jewelry and item pawning in exchange for convenient and honest appraisal for cash.
The company has been providing Filipinos in need of instant cash since 1954, offering higher appraisal rate versus other pawnshops. Their more than 600 branches nationwide accept an array of items, from jewelry to gadgets, as collateral.
The company has always adopted a customer-first mindset, said Villarica.
While pawnshops are allowed to collect service charge from its clients, Villarica said they refrained from doing so.
In fact, he said, that on top of the high appraisal rate, they also adopted the standard one-month term for all loans in addition to the 90-day grace period within which to pay the loan and redeem the pawned items.
“By and large, we have provided our clients with the most liberal terms and conditions such as the highest appraisal on all our loans and an interest rate lower than the prevailing interest being charged by majority of pawnshops in any given area of competition,” said Villarica.