BSP says rise of digital payments in PH ‘very encouraging’

Digital payment transactions in the Philippines, which is targeted to hit about 20 percent of total transactions by 2020, is increasing in line with the target of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

BSP deputy governor Chuchi Fonacier said monetary officials “are just awaiting the official results from the assessment made by Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA).”

“Advance information provided on this is very encouraging. But let’s just wait for the official results to come out,” she told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The results of a BTCA survey, done in 2013 in coordination with the BSP, showed that only 1 percent of about 2.5 billion monthly payment transactions in the country are done electronically.

Encouraged by the results, the BSP has introduced several programs to entice more Filipinos to use digital payments, especially since technological innovations are changing the financial services landscape.

Among these programs is the institution of real-time electronic payment systems called InstaPay and PESONet, the automated clearing houses (ACH) under the National Retail Payment System (NRPS).

InstaPay provides consumers a safe, affordable, and real-time electronic payment mode for up to P50,000 per transaction without limit in a day.

Charges may apply to the one sending the fund and the one receiving it depending on the financial institution they will tap.

There are about 20 financial institutions that have agreed to be part of this payment system and those that have agreed to provide InstaPay-related payments and withdrawals.

PESONet, meanwhile, is a batch electronic fund transfer (EFT) credit payment scheme. This is for business-to-business as well as people-to-business transactions like credit salaries to employees’ existing accounts.

The BSP data show that as of July this year, there are about 51 PESONet ACHs or banks that provide this service.

While satisfied with the growth of digital payments in the country, the BSP said it is targeting for the Philippines to become a “cash-lite” society.

Melchor Plabasan, officer-in-charge of the BSP Technology Risk and Innovation Supervision Department, commented that there is still a lot to be done before most Filipinos would do e-payments.

“We are targeting that 20 percent of retail transactions would be electronics by 2020. Our goal is a ‘cash-lite society’, not totally ‘cashless’ for now,” he said.

Plabasan explained that the BSP’s goal is to minimize transactions using banknotes and coins, thus the term “cash-lite”.

“Going electronics result in savings, and it is more convenient. You’d just use your mobile phone to pay for transactions,” he said.

For the country to be “cashless” like China, there must be a strong push for digital literacy, as well as preparations in terms of safety and security.

Plabasan clarified that when a country goes “cashless”, it does not mean it stops producing money.

“Someone’s mobile account has to come from somewhere. Meaning, bills and coins still exist in the bank. Someone wouldn’t get P1 million in e-payment if there is no P1 million deposited in the bank,” he clarified.

“Unless we (BSP) would issue a digital currency, there would always be physical money. Even if we go digital,” he said. — Joann Villanueva, Ma. Cristina Arayata (PNA)

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