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The Philippines Approves Bill to Promote Digital Payments

A House of Representatives committee has passed legislation to encourage the use of digital payments for government and merchant financial operations. Chaired by Manila Rep. Irwin Tieng, The House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries endorsed the consolidated version of House Bills 275, 358, 2946, 3737, 4344, and 5073, or the proposed “Use of Digital Payments Act”.

The bill’s author, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, shared that the law aspires to promote the widespread use of safe and efficient digital payments in government and public financial operations. Digital payment innovation would increase transparency with effective monitoring, tracking, and security.

“Merchants are now required to further digital transactions in their every activity by making the digital payment service a pre-requisite for the application or renewal of their business permits. Meanwhile, the government must also use secure and efficient electronic or digital payment methods for taxes, fees, tolls, imposts, other revenues, and payments for products, services, and other disbursements,” Duterte remarked.

Furthermore, Tieng highlighted that digital payment benefits both the retailer and the client. He explained that with digital payments, shops would no longer be needed to engage a cashier to handle physical currency, and buyers would no longer be required to prepare coins and bills for payment.

Tieng also mentioned that the merchant’s sales would be safer because electronic payments flow directly to the store’s account, which cannot be readily stolen or pilfered by employees or shoplifters. Another consequence of a digital payment regime is fewer face-to-face exchanges between government agents and customers, eliminating interaction and corruption potential.

Assistant Secretary Sarah Daway-Ducanes of the National Economic and Development Authority articulated her agency’s endorsement of the bills. The law aligns with the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028’s strategy to intensify digital transformation in the government in the practice of good governance and enhance bureaucratic performance.

The steps also align with the activities promoting a safe and efficient national payments system. The component has been consolidated on the e-Governance Bill draught. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has included the draught in the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council’s common legislative agenda as the priority measure.

Moreover, to promote digitalisation in the country, the Philippines and Japan agreed on innovations in information and communications technology (ICT) collaboration to improve internet infrastructure and cybersecurity.

According to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) agreed signed between the DICT and Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC). It allows for collaboration to improve broadband infrastructure, diversify 5G suppliers, develop the 5G network, and evolve cybersecurity capacity-building programmes.

“Furthermore, the MoC will improve bilateral collaboration for a smooth transition to Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting and the use of the Emergency Warning Broadcasting System in the Philippines,” the DICT added.

Ivan John Uy, DICT Secretary, was optimistic that the signing of the MoC would encourage deeper tech connection with Japan. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. observed the signing of the MoC during his five-day official working visit to Japan in early February.

The two countries will collaborate over the next five years to develop collaborative ICT initiatives, exchanging specialists, delegations, and information on ICT policies, technology, and regulations. It would build on existing areas of collaboration in digital transformation, big data and artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, and cultural linkages through content broadcasting.


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