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eSPARC: Sparking up SEC registration

“It is easy at SEC” — That is the tagline of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) crusade for its Digital Transformation and Technology Modernization Roadmap.

As part of this campaign, earlier this year, the SEC launched its newest registration system — eSPARC or the Electronic Simplified Processing of Application for Registration of Company. The platform serves to address the deficiency of the SEC’s previous Company Registration System (CRS) due to the new elements introduced by the Revised Corporation Code (RCC).

Some readers may be aware that the SEC initially kicked off an Interim Registration System (IRS) to immediately accommodate the online registration of corporations with less than five incorporators, including One Person Corporations (OPCs).  The SEC then revamped IRS, which resulted in the emergence of eSPARC.

eSPARC was introduced to the public as the transformed online registration system for any domestic corporation, apart from partnerships and foreign corporations whose applications for registration must still be filed through the CRS. However, in a recent notice issued by the SEC, any business formation requiring SEC registration may now be processed through eSPARC starting Sept. 15, 2021.

Other than its expanded applicant base, there are new notable features of eSPARC that may spark the interest of the public. eSPARC is capable of providing real-time updates on the status of registration applications through its inquiry facility. It is linked to eSPAYSEC or Electronic System for Payments to the SEC, which enables applicants to settle their transactions with the Commission through online banking or digital wallets. It is linked to the Central Business Portal of the National Government, which is the centralized platform for business registration and related transactions across government agencies.

Quite promising, but after observing its pilot period, does eSPARC really live up to expectations?

COMPLETION OF THE REGISTRATION APPLICATION AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
eSPARC offers simple steps in completing the online registration application.

1. As with the CRS, the applicant can directly verify the availability of and then reserve the proposed company name.

2. The applicant then inputs comprehensive information about the proposed corporation, which includes the details of its representative, business line, capital structure, officers, incorporators, directors, and subscribers.

3. Additional files to support the registration are uploaded.

4. The applicant reviews the details and submits the application.

5. The applicant pays the registration fees.

eSPARC is more concise with instructions and guidance in filling up the forms compared to CRS. Living up to its tagline, the SEC has definitely improved its registration process to make the experience easier and more pleasant for applicants.

REAL-TIME INQUIRY ON APPLICATION STATUS
With its inquiry facility, applicants can now access real-time status or updates of their applications.

Another beneficial feature is the one-time-passcodes (OTPs) sent directly to the e-mail registered in the application — a fast service with data security and privacy.

PAYMENT OF FEES THROUGH ONLINE BANKING OR DIGITAL WALLETS
Part of the SEC’s technology modernization roadmap campaign is the integration of a web-based payment portal. eSPAYSEC is a web-based system that allows applicants to pay registration and other fees online using debit and credit cards, digital wallets, and other cashless payment options available in the system.

As the SEC promises, payment through eSPAYSEC is easy, convenient, secure, and fast. Linked to eSPARC, applicants may opt for cashless payment without the hassle and risk of physically going out to pay the fees at the assigned SEC office.

This feature makes the end-to-end process in eSPARC seamless.

THE CENTRAL BUSINESS PORTAL (CBP)
One of the key features of eSPARC, as presented by the SEC, is its link to the National Government’s CBP.

However, the SEC advised that the system does not generate Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) for the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), or Employer Registration Numbers for social agencies (Pag-IBIG, Social Security System, and Philippine Health Insurance Commission).

Thus, applicants still have to file their registration applications separately to obtain the needed TIN and ERN for the corporation.

With all the notable features that the SEC presented in the launching of eSPARC, the inter-agency linkage, which is touted as the standout feature of the system, has not been fully completed, unfortunately. The deferral is due to the needed coordination with and action from the other concerned government agencies.

With the commitment of our government to ease doing business and provide good service right in the safety and comfort of our homes or workplaces, we await the fast and full implementation of eSPARC features — there being no better time than now. The SEC’s visible initiatives and efforts to innovate and modernize its registration system during the pandemic are certainly commendable.

The views or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Isla Lipana & Co. The content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for specific advice.

 

Christine Joy Rivera is a Senior Consultant at the Tax Services Department of Isla Lipana & Co., the Philippine member firm of the PwC network.

christine.joy.rivera@pwc.com

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