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Digital Payments Strengthened Between the Philippines and Singapore

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Various cross-border cooperation between the Philippines and Singapore have extended their fintech relationship, strengthening ASEAN regional payments and providing financial inclusion to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and micro-small-to-medium-sized businesses (MSMEs).

Governor Benjamin Diokno of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Managing Director Ravi Menon of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) signed the expanded Fintech Innovation Function Cooperation Agreement during the recent World Fintech Festival Philippines (WFF) 2021 – Singapore Fintech Festival (SFF). The integration of the two countries’ QR and real-time payment systems was one of the highlights. The BSP stated that they are currently taking the first step in integrating the Philippine payment system with those of our ASEAN neighbours, beginning with Singapore.

He went on to say that the agreement will make cross-border payments safer and more efficient by allowing for smoother and more seamless international fund transfers. “It is a solid step towards the idea of an ASEAN network of interconnected real-time payment systems,” said Managing Director Menon.

Digital Pilipinas Convenor Amor Maclang expressed his support for the enlarged BSP-MAS Cooperation Agreement by emphasising a whole-of-society approach in addressing today’s and tomorrow’s technological demands. “We will continue to be at the service of both the BSP and the MAS since this agreement is a very essential pillar in tech-ing up our country,” said Maclang, who helped launch WFF 2021 with the MAS.

OpenGov Asia reported the collaboration of the BSP and MAS in payment infrastructure initiatives is in line with the G20’s efforts to resolve existing frictions in global cross-border payments and helps ASEAN’s objective of achieving regional payments integration by 2025. Both central banks will seek multilateral interoperability of these projects, as part of regional efforts to strengthen ties both within ASEAN and with countries beyond the region.

“The BSP is taking the first step in integrating the Philippine payment system with those of our ASEAN neighbours, beginning with Singapore,” said BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno. By effectively connecting the country’s QR and real-time payment systems, it will improve the safety and efficiency of cross-border payments by allowing for a speedier and more seamless international movement of cash, thereby benefiting Filipinos who use cross-border payment services.

Overseas Filipinos, export, import, and tourism enterprises, as well as firms with affiliates or investors abroad, may be among the benefactors. The BSP is convinced that this improved CA will boost the Philippines’ connection with Singapore and bring the ASEAN region one step closer to establishing an integrated and interoperable cross-border payment system.

The sandboxes that Digital Pilipinas will build with national line agencies will be guided by the BSP and MAS models, allowing them to speed innovation while adhering to the regulatory norms. Digital Pilipinas will use Business Without Borders to put plans in place for tech-ing up enterprises and connecting MSMEs to international trade. Its use of digital gateways to open the ASEAN market to local businesses is in line with the revised Cooperation Agreement between the BSP and the MAS.

BSP Assistant Governor Edna Villa named another new development: “Collaboration specifically on payments innovation and the linking of the two payment systems of the Philippines’ InstaPay and Singapore’s PayNow.”

“Allowing people to connect to the new payment methods can assist boost financial inclusion,” said Brankas CEO Todd Schweitzer of how aligning financial access with tech education might improve the lives of underprivileged Filipinos. This can assist OFWs in determining which insurance package best suits their needs.”

Carmelita Araneta, General Manager of Philippine Payments Management Inc. (PPMI), agreed that ‘power is starting to migrate in Asia’ in terms of economics and technology. Their P2M (Person-to-Merchant) solution is meant to interact with Instapay users in Singapore.

More interactions across ASEAN are expected as a result of the BSP-MAS extended Cooperation Agreement and the new Digital Pilipinas alliances. Ultimately the Digital Pilipinas Convenor stated that they will assist speed up cross-border financial transactions between the Philippines and Singapore and bring Philippine industries forward toward ASEAN economic integration.

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