US report: PH most improved country in digital and financial inclusion

The Philippines garnered stellar honors in the 2016 Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report of United States-based Brookings Institutions, one of the oldest think tanks in the world.

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In a study of 26 geographically, economically, and politically diverse countries, the Brookings Report found the Philippines to have gained the highest improvement in overall score for digital and financial inclusion.

Compared to its score in 2015, the local economy increased by eight percentage points, ahead of all other countries in the annual study.

The upsurge has been attributed to the launch of the Philippine National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI); strong performance in mobile capacity, as measured through smartphone penetration; and highest adoption rate of mobile money acounts among Southeast Asian economies covered by the report.

Assessment was based on various criteria under four general dimensions: country commitment, such as the existence of a consumer protection framework for financial services; regulatory environment, including e-money platform inter-operability; mobile capacity in terms of market penetration, 3G coverage, and availability of merchant payments via mobile money; and the adoption of traditional and digital financial services among lower-income groups.

With perfect scores of 100, the Philippines topped the categories of country commitment and regulatory environment. It also achieved a high score of 94 in terms of mobile capacity, but got a modest 42 in adoption.

Brookings cited the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for its role in shepherding the Philippine NSFI’s implementation and advancing the formalization of the high-level inter-agency Financial Inclusion Steering Committee, as well as its support for the Better than Cash Alliance, an international coalition working to shift global use of physical cash to digital transactions.

It also acknowledged the BSP’s leadership role in the Global Alliance for Financial Inclusion and its being a front-runner among central banks in the issuance of enabling and proportionate regulations. — PNA

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