PH digital payments on an upswing – UN report

THE Philippines sustained its progress in terms of digital payment transactions, according to a report from a United Nations (UN) agency commissioned by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

In the 2019 update and 2020 preview of its report titled “The State of Digital Payments in the Philippines,” the UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA) said the volume of monthly digital payments in the country climbed from 10 percent in 2018 to 14 percent in 2019.

This corresponds to a 27-percent expansion in volume, driven primarily by high-frequency, low-value retail transactions, like merchant payments, it added.

“In 2019, an estimated 4.8 billion payments were made per month,” BTCA emphasized. The value of monthly digital payments grew to 24 percent of all transactions in 2019, higher than the 20 percent in 2018.

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It also said early estimates for the first half of 2020 indicate that digital payments inched up to 17 percent of all monthly payments, propelled by payments made to merchants and person-to-person (P2P) payments.

During the same period, the average monthly value of digital payments also increased marginally, from 24 percent to 25 percent.

For his part, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the report confirms the Philippines is “on the right track in providing the necessary interventions to promote digitalization of consumers and merchants alike.”

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In a related development, the central bank and the payment services industry led the pilot launch of the QR Ph Person-to-Merchant (P2M) digital payment stream on Friday.

With QR Ph P2M, consumers need not memorize details of their bank accounts as these relevant information will be securely stored in the QR code. Consumers only need their mobile phones and do not have to worry about carrying cash or debit/credit cards.

The ease of carrying out retail transactions through digital payments is further increased by the interoperability feature of QR Ph. Under the QR Ph, customers would not have to maintain separate accounts with the payment service providers who are enrolled in it.
Merchants enrolled in QR Ph would also not need to display numerous QR codes in their establishments.

Diokno said the safety, ease and affordability of using QR Ph P2M will make digital payments more accessible to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines.

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“Given that the sector comprises around 99 percent of the total number of businesses in the country, the adoption of QR Ph P2M by MSMEs will allow more Filipinos to reap the benefits of digital payments.”

Joining the pilot run are merchants AllBank Inc., Asia United Bank, China Banking Corp., PayMaya, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Robinsons Bank and Union Bank of the Philippines.

In a separate statement, digital financial services leader PayMaya said it is the first financial technology firm in the country to adopt QR Ph for merchants.

With PayMaya’s rollout of QR Ph to its merchant partners, businesses can easily accept cashless and contactless payments not just from a PayMaya wallet user, but also from any accountholder of QR Ph participating banks and other e-wallets.

As a participating institution, PayMaya is now rolling out the QR Ph standard to its more than 116,000 merchant partners using its payment devices, gateway and QR displays.

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