The Monetary Board has approved the establishment of VISIONBANK, INC. A RURAL BANK, the first microfinance-oriented rural bank established under BSP Circular 273. The first two thrift banks under the said Circular were Opportunity Microfinance Bank, Inc. (A Thrift Bank) in Antipolo, Rizal which commenced operations on August 17, 2001, and Microenterprise Bank in Davao City, which opened on November 21, 2001.
The newly-approved bank in Bato, Catanduanes has an authorized capital stock of P80 million while initial paid in capital is P9.03 million. A significant portion of the capital shall emanate from the Agricultural and Rural Development for Catanduanes, Inc. (ARDCI), a non-government microfinance organization duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. ARDCI is a member in good standing of the Microfinance Council of the Philippines and has a performance rating of "Very Satisfactory". As a young NGO-microfinance organization, ARDCI was able to achieve a relatively fast growth in terms of assets and outreach.
At present, there is no bank in Bato as well as in other municipalities of the province. The four (4) banks of Catanduanes are all located in its capital town, Virac. People have to take the risk in traveling to and from Virac to source additional capital and to avail of other banking services. In order to assist the poor farmers/small business entrepreneurs in sourcing the much needed capital and to stop the proliferation of exploitative informal money lender, ARDCI initiated the establishment of the newly-approved microfinance-oriented rural bank in Bato.