National ID to address money laundering – BSP chief

The proposed national identification (ID) system can help address the money laundering problem, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said.

BSP governor Nestor Espenilla Jr.

During a panel discussion at the Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB) convention in Makati Shangri La on Tuesday, April 10, the central bank chief said the proposed unified ID system “is a major project that directly supports our aspiration to pave a more digital economy.”

“And I can tell you that the BSP has been a major partner in promoting the adoption of what we call a ‘foundational biometric ID system’,” he said.

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading its version of the proposed national ID system in September 2017 while the Senate approved its own version in March this year.

“There’s a meeting of the minds between the two Houses and we expect the bicameral conference committee to happen next month,” Espenilla said, citing that the proposal has been certified as urgent by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“Our great expectation is that we will have finally a proper national ID law as early as next month,” he said.

The program has been given a P2 billion allocation under the 2018 national budget and the fund was approved under the budget of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Espenilla said discussions on the implementation of the ID system started last week, pointing out that “you can tell from all of these that this is serious initiative and it will happen sooner rather than later.”

He said the central bank is “ready to recognize the national ID, once it’s in place, to replace all other IDs that we currently require from our customers…purposes.”

“It will solve or it will address many of the money laundering compliance. So there’s many issues that can be resolved. It will also facilitate the acquisition of customers from a distance,” he said.

“We have great expectations in the BSP and we can assure you that we are ready to move forward quickly with this foundational biometric ID system. I hope it doesn’t get any political derails. We really need it. We’re probably the only one in ASEAN who doesn’t have one just yet. It’s time again to move forward with this,” he stressed.

The central bank chief clarified that there is no need for an immediate distribution of physical ID to all Filipinos and resident foreigners under this program.

“What we are building is not really a physical ID. This is basically an identification system. It is gonna be platform-based and digitally-enabled,” he said, citing that the “real authenticity of the information is the biometrics that are verifiable digitally.”

Under the proposal, all 10 fingerprints and irises of each citizen will be scanned for the ID system and a randomly-generated ID number will be assigned to them for life.

The physical ID will come later and banks will eventually be required to have their biometrics reader, Espenilla added. — Joann Villanueva (PNA)

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