by Lawrence Agcaoili – The Philippine Star, 19 Sep 2021
MANILA, Philippines — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is pushing for the passage of a bill that aims to facilitate transactions, arrangements or exchanges of goods and services by promoting the universal use of a safe and efficient digital payments in financial transactions.
In a virtual special reform legislation discussion series titled “Promotion of Digital Payments” organized by the American Chamber of the Philippines Inc., BSP Deputy Governor Mamerto Tangonan said the central bank supports House Bill 8992 of Rep. Junie Cua and Senate Bill 1764 filed by Sen. Sonny Angara.
“The BSP supports the objectives of HB 8992 and SB 1764 to promote the adoption of digital payments for financial transactions of government and merchants by providing an enabling environment to financially include all Filipinos,” Tangonan said.
He added the bills are also substantially aligned with the central bank’s strategic objectives to build a robust and inclusive digital payments ecosystem in the country.
Under its Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap, the BSP aims to convert 50 percent of total retail transactions to digital channels and raise the number of Filipino adults with bank accounts to 70 percent by 2023.
Tangonan said the pending bills aim to accelerate digital payments adoption and promote financial inclusion.
He added both bills would require local government units (LGUs) to issue ordinances requiring merchants to have a digital payment system as a condition for the approval or renewal of business permits and to extend assistance to small and micro-merchants to facilitate their adoption of digital payments capability.
Likewise, the pending bills also require the BSP, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as well as the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to build the capacities of non-government agencies, government owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs), LGUs, and merchants on the use of electronic payments.
Likewise, both DICT as well as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) would be tasked to enhance nationwide internet connectivity to support digitalization.
Tangonan said the proposed “Promotion of Digital Payments Act” would also mandate government agencies to prioritize the use of safe and efficient digital payments in their financial transaction to promote financial inclusion.
He also cited the Philippine identification system (PhilSys) that would aid Filipinos in opening transaction accounts with banks and electronic money issuers to onboard them into the formal financial system.
In December 2015, the BSP launched the National Retail Payment System in its bid to raise the share of digital payments to total retail transactions to 20 percent by 2020 from as low as one percent in 2013.
With the COVID-19 pandemic serving as catalyst, latest data from the Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA) showed the share of digital payments in terms of volume rose to 17 percent in end June last year from 14 percent in end 2019.
“Soon we will be releasing a report covering the whole year of 2020. The important message to us here is especially induced by the pandemic that we are experiencing, we can clearly see a shifting trend in the preference in terms of using cashless and digital payments,” Tangonan added.