PHL digital transactions rose during renewed lockdowns

MORE Filipinos continued to shift towards digital banking due largely to the movement and operational restrictions brought about by government’s efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported last Tuesday that financial transactions through the country’s two automated clearing houses—PESONet and InstaPay—were higher by 276 percent in volume and 127 percent in value in April, compared to the figures recorded during the same month in 2020.

“The data are encouraging. These indicate the sustained adoption of digital payments in the country,” BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said in a statement. “The preference of consumers for safety in their financial transactions, coupled with the readiness of the BSFIs to offer digital payment choices that are safe, convenient, and affordable will continue to support the widespread use of digital payments.”

In a separate speaking engagement, Diokno reaffirmed his projection that the BSP will hit its “Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap” targets of digitizing at least 50 percent of financial transactions and 70 percent of Filipinos owning financial accounts as early as next year.

“Before the end of 2022, we will accomplish those goals,” the Governor said during the Institute of International Finance (IIF) Asia Pacific Summit held online recently.

The projection was made in view of the sustained rise in digital financial transactions in the Philippines amid the pandemic.

“New adopters have experienced first-hand the advantages of going digital. Their positive experiences are expected to create a ripple effect and to promote the wider use of digital payments,” Diokno was quoted in the statement as saying.

There is however, a lot more to be done.

In a study released by Visa on Tuesday, the global financial giant said that while 83 percent of Filipinos are aware and 81 percent are interested in using digital banking services, only 32 percent of respondents are currently using services offered by a digital bank.

The Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes study also showed that Filipinos interested in banking with digital banks are keen to use services such as paying bills (84 percent), transferring money locally (78 percent), making deposits and withdrawals (76 percent), and making payments for purchases at local retail locations (71 percent).

However, the preference of using digital banking for traditional bank services such as investments were only at 52 percent, international transfers at 48 percent and obtaining loans at 46 percent.

The study also showed that 86 percent of Filipino respondents would switch current banking services to digital banking services if the bank provided better rewards and 85 percent would do so if they can benefit from lower costs for their banking transactions.

“As more digital-based solutions and trends emerge in the market, Filipinos are more open to new innovations that make payments and banking more convenient, accessible and seamless. There is opportunity in the country for traditional banks and new players to launch digital banking services in the country that will better serve the needs of underserved and underpenetrated segments,” Dan Wolbert, Visa Country Manager for the Philippines and Guam, said.

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