Digital payments continue to surge

THE COUNTRY continues to see growth in digital payments a year into the pandemic crisis, and this could gain more momentum amid government initiatives, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said.

“In March this year, the combined volume and value of PESONet and InstaPay fund transfers reached 39 million and P552.3 billion, respectively,” Mr. Diokno said in a virtual briefing on Thursday.

“Volume increased by 369% and value by 184% compared to figures posted in March 2020, or a year since the pandemic’s outbreak,” he added.

Under the National Retail Payment System of the BSP, PESONet is the electronic fund transfer service that handles batch fund transfers for amounts beyond 50,000 which is credited to the receiver’s end by the end of a banking day. Meanwhile, InstaPay is its retail counterpart which facilitates payments lower than P50,000 that can be transferred in real time.

Mr. Diokno said there are 77 banks and e-money issuers that coursed transactions through PESONet and 52 via InstaPay as of end-March.

The EGov Pay facility where consumers can settle payments to government institutions and agencies also saw a surge in both volume (1,775%) and value (6,603%) at the end of the first quarter from a year earlier, he added.

The BSP chief expects digital transactions to continue rising this year on the back of several initiatives on the way, including multiple settlements for the PESONet, which is expected to be rolled out by the fourth quarter.

“With more batch settlements in a day, end-users will have greater flexibility and convenience in making payments,” he said.

The central bank is also working to launch by the third quarter an interoperable bills payment facility, which will facilitate transactions related to utility, rent, loan amortizations and other periodic or recurring financial obligations.

This facility will be available “even if if the transaction accounts of the customer and the biller are maintained in different payment service providers”, Mr. Diokno said.

Meanwhile, a request to pay facility is expected to be ready by the fourth quarter, which would allow payees to remind their payors about collections of non-recurring receivables.

“Payors will find it easier to make payment since they need not initiate the payment and provide several details such as a payee’s account details and amount to be settled,” Mr. Diokno said.

The central bank targets to make the country cash-lite by 2023, where e-payments make up 50% of total transactions, both in terms of volume and value. — L.W.T. Noble

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