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Central bank pushes for faster digitalization of financial services

THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) will continue pushing reforms and policies to spur the digital transformation of the country, especially in financial services, to push inclusion, its chief said on Friday.

Among the measures cited by BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno were one recommended by the Financial Inclusion Steering Committee (FISC), such as the Open Access to Data Transmission bill and an order to liberalize access to satellite technology for broadband services. The BSP is a member of the FISC.

Mr. Diokno said these initiatives aim to close the country’s internet infrastructure gaps to expand broadband connectivity and eventually ramp up financial inclusion.

“Through digitalization, we help create opportunities for people to improve their lives and participate in the economic and financial system. Through digital payments, we also promote financial inclusion. Digital payments help consumers engage in easier and safer economic activities,” Mr. Diokno said in his speech during the “Ulat ng BSP sa Bayan” forum on Friday.

“On a wider scale, it also helps reduce poverty and hunger, promote good health and well-being, ensure quality education, decent work, and gender equality, develop sustainable communities, and a lot more,” he added.

The central bank wants 50% of financial transactions in terms of volume and value to be done digitally by 2023, with at least 70% of Filipino adults having accounts with financial institutions.

Mr. Diokno said electronic money transactions done via PESONet and Instapay surged last year amid the ongoing public health crisis.

PESONet is an electronic fund transfer service under the National Retail Payment System of the central bank that facilitates batch fund transfers for amounts beyond P50,000. The service allows fund transfers to be credited to the receiver by the end of the banking date.

The volume of PESONet transfers skyrocketed by 376% year on year to 15.3 million in 2020 while the value nearly tripled to P951 billion.

Meanwhile, the volume of InstaPay transactions likewise surged by 459% to 86.7 million while the value stood at P463 billion, up 340% year on year.

“The COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic has indeed unexpectedly catalyzed the rapid acceleration of digital transformation. The BSP took this opportunity to advance initiatives to push digitalization in the financial industry further,” Mr. Diokno said. — B.M. Laforga

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