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Adapting New Payment Solutions to Accelerate Digital Transformation in the Philippines

The Governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) confirmed that it, along with the payment systems industry, plans to implement a QR standard for person-to-merchant (P2M) payments. The move is seen as a key initiative to ramp up the digitalisation of payments across the nation. The Quick Response (QR) technology involves code scanning and provides customers with a faster and cheaper payment alternative, as well as increased flexibility.

The governor expressed his confidence that this initiative will enable greatly benefit the unbanked sector, micro-entrepreneurs such as sari-sari store owners and the unorganised communities like drivers, delivery staff, etc. The ease and efficiency of digital payments have been widely proven across the world in a range of sectors.

In a recent meeting, the BSP governor confirmed that the BSP will continue to collaborate with the Philippine Payments Management Inc. (PPMI) to ensure that every Filipino can be a part of the increasingly digital Philippine economy. The PPMI is a self-governing body run by payment industry participants that is recognised as the country’s payment system management body by the BSP.

These challenging times have taught us to adapt, be more agile, and to find innovative ways to continue thriving. In a way, the pandemic gave us an invaluable opportunity – and one that we must seize – to build and enhance our capacities for digital transformation.

– Benjamin Diokno, Governor, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

The two bodies are working together on several fronts to better the overall national financial landscape in a bid to drive the economy and offer a better consumer experience. The PesoNet Multiple Batch Settlement (MBS) is expected to be in place by the end of this year. With most businesses relying on digital payments, credit and debit cards, rapid and efficient batch settlements are of vital importance for sustainability. In essence, e-payments are a digital alternative to the traditional, physical cheque system. Like cheque settlements, the MBS will clear sets of approved digital transactions. Increasing the frequency of e-payment settlements from once to twice daily will give businesses a significant boost. It will speed up the payment process for high-value transfers and assist businesses in meeting their funding requirements.

By the first part of 2022, they want to establish an interoperable bills payment facility. The interoperable payments charge facility,  allows billers to accrue payments from clients digitally despite the fact that the billers’ charge provider carriers differ from the clients’.

A third initiative is a request-to-pay facility which is planned for the second quarter of the coming year. This facility will permit payees to provoke collections by directly sending a request-to-pay. Payors, in this system, no longer need to authenticate the payee’s account information – they can immediately authorise the payee’s demand.

In conjunction with the payments industry, the BSP is looking to establish a Direct Debit Service. The platform will allow the payer to electronically authorise a payee as a regular withdrawer of funds rather than authorising them for each transaction. The move greatly helps in areas like regular ordinary billing, month-to-month rent, loan amortisation and premiums that need to paid at fixed periods.

For its part, PPMI is looking to bring onboard banks and e-money issuers that are part of the PesoNet programme for the EGov Pay ecosystem – an e-payment facility for taxes, permits, fees and other government obligations.

As part of the overall development of a secure and thriving financial environment, the BSP supports the passage of a Senate bill that would safeguard customers from cybercrime – the Bank Account, E-wallet, and Other Financial Accounts Regulation Act (Senate Bill No. 2380).

OpenGov Asia also reported that the BSP has urged the immediate establishment of an anti-cybercrime law to better protect financial consumers. The bill addresses illegal activities such as phishing, in which a scammer poses as a legitimate or trusted entity to obtain sensitive information by illegally accessing an individual’s online account; or opening a bank e-wallet account under a fictitious name, or using another’s identity or identification documents to receive, transfer, or withdraw proceeds derived from a suspicious activity or transaction.

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