BSP Pushes for Financial Inclusion With Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap

The Monetary Board has approved the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap 2020-2023.

The roadmap charts BSP’s current initiatives and strategies in advancing an efficient, inclusive, safe and secure digital payments ecosystem. It has identified two key strategic objectives.

First, is the strengthening of customer preference for digital payments by converting 50% of the total volume of retail payments into digital form and expanding the number of the financially included to 70% of Filipino adults by onboarding them to the formal financial system through the use of payment or transaction accounts.

The second is the availability of more innovative digital financial products and services designed to meet the needs of consumers, enabled by a digital ID (Philippine Identification System or PhilSys), and supported by the availability of a next generation payment and settlement system to facilitate real-time processing of financial transactions.

Said objectives are anchored on three critical pillars, which are envisaged to transform the cash-heavy Philippine economy into a cash-lite economy.

The first is the development of digital payment streams which will increase wider acceptance and use among individuals, businesses and the government.

The second is the establishment of necessary digital finance infrastructures to facilitate interoperability in the digital payments ecosystem, allowing providers to offer a wider array of affordable products and services.

The third is the implementation of digital governance standards that will safeguard the integrity and privacy of consumer data, and ensure appropriate governance and regulation of digital products and services.

The roadmap also recognised the broader challenges to the development of a digital payment ecosystem and financial inclusion, key among which is the access and quality of internet connectivity. This challenge may be addressed by exploring the use of satellite communications to deliver internet connectivity to hard-to-reach rural places.

Benjamin E. Diokno
Benjamin E. Diokno

“Our thrust to promote digitalisation of payments is also strategically geared towards furthering financial inclusion as we view the two to be mutually reinforcing; they go hand in hand, with each one enabling the other,”

according to Dr. Benjamin E. Diokno, Chairman of the Monetary Board and Governor of the BSP.

“With the launch of the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap, we aim to hit two birds with one stone. We are securing the digitalisation of payments, and increasing the number of Filipinos with access to financial services,”

the Governor added.

The momentum for pursuing digital payments has also been catalysed by the recent lockdowns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the ECQ, there was a significant decline in the volume and value of check payments and automated teller machine withdrawals observed, suggesting that consumers were wary of the risk of exposure brought about by face-to-face transactions in the bank.

Meanwhile, PESONet and InstaPay transactions remarkably increased by 74%, from 18.4 million prior to the COVID-19 lockdown to 32.1 million during the ECQ. At the same time, the 2019 Financial Inclusion Survey showed a notable increase in the number of e-money account owners from 1.3% of the adult population in 2017, to 8% in 2019.

E-money providers have also reported record-high increases in the number of transactions and account users during the quarantine period. The latest data on the volume of transactions using PESONet and InstaPay shows a substantial growth of 122% from 23 million to 51.2 million from the first to the second quarter of 2020.

These developments indicate that there is a growing consumer sentiment to shift towards more digital payments.

BSP’s Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap supports this development by providing their key stakeholders, such as banks, financial and payment service providers, fintech service players, and consumers with a helpful strategic guide in navigating the country’s approach towards a digital payments-enabled economy.

Featured Image Credit: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)

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