The Philippines’ Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) officially launched the national quick response (QR) code standard for consumer-to-business payments with a digital payment company as the first financial technology firm in the country to adopt QR PH for merchants.
With the tech firm’s rollout of QR PH to its merchant partners, businesses can now accept cashless payments not just from their users’ wallet but also from any accountholder of QR PH participating banks and other e-wallets. The tech firm treats this as another milestone in their mission to build a cashless Philippines as they become the first fintech company to support the BSP in its effort to accelerate digital payments around the country through the launch of QR PH for merchants.
As a participating institution, the tech firm is now rolling out the QR PH standard to its more than 116,000 merchant partners using its payment devices, gateway, and QR displays. The company is said to be the largest non-bank payment acquirer in the Philippines, enabling all types of enterprises to accept cashless payments — from big retailers, e-commerce players, and government to micro, small, and medium-sized (MSME) merchants. For merchants, this means a more streamlined payment acceptance experience, eliminating the need to use multiple QR codes catering to single wallets or accounts.
With the new normal brought by COVID-19, QR PH for retail payments will get more businesses from MSMEs to the largest merchants to go digital as more Filipinos can now easily and safely do interoperable digital payments using their mobile phones.
The BSP is targeting a full nationwide rollout this year as it targets to achieve a “cash-lite” economy by 2023. Under its Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap (DPTR), it envisions converting 50% of the total volume of retail payments into digital and increase the number of adults with financial accounts to 70% of the population.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the BSP highlighted how the pandemic has been a catalyst for financial digitalisation, as mobility restrictions prompted more people to use digital payments. In 2020, over 4 million new electronic financial accounts were created in the Philippines. Cybersecurity is also top of mind for the BSP as it seeks to build public trust in digital banking, adding that digitalisation measures go hand in hand with ensuring a safe cybersecurity environment with fintech institutions facing the same regulatory environment as banks.
BSP further explained that the government’s strategy to increase internet access across the country is concurrent and crucial to the BSP’s efforts to expand financial inclusion. The country’s central bank also provided detail on how they are running financial and digital literacy programmes with local communities such as fishermen and state institutions including the Civil Service and Philippine National Police (PNP).
The BSP expects a further surge in the use of digital platforms for payments and in the number of Filipino adults with financial accounts over the near term, highlighting that the BSP is on track with its financial inclusion and digitalisation goals. They also recognise the importance of the country’s National ID System (PhilSys), in which mass registration is ongoing. This will help facilitate the Philippines’ digitalisation and financial inclusion goals. The PhilSys will squarely address the problem of lack of formal IDs among the marginalised, which is a major barrier for them to open a bank or financial accounts, the BSP added.
By using digital payments with due care and vigilance, Filipinos reduce the need for mobility and prevent health risks from face-to-face and over the counter (OTC) financial transactions. The greater usage of digital payments will also facilitate the growth of Fintech businesses engaged in e-commerce businesses as the consumption of goods and services is increasingly driven by online purchases.
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Aquaculture is important to the Thai economy. To ensure the long-term growth of this important industry, it is necessary to strengthen the production system by increasing farmers’ sustainable farming capacity and implementing Aquaculture 4.0.
To help with this effort, the nation’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre under the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NECTEC-NSTDA) created Aqua-IoT, an IoT-based monitoring system for water’s physical, chemical, and biological qualities.
Dr Supanit Porntheeraphat, Principal Researcher of the NECTEC Digital Agriculture Technology Research Team, explained that the project to develop a digital aquaculture system began at NECTEC in 2010 at the height of disease outbreaks that severely harmed Thailand’s aquaculture industry and the overall economy. The system has been constantly developed and improved since then.
The integration of key data – physical, chemical, and biological water qualities, as well as weather – into a single dashboard allows users to understand the relationship between the data, analyse the data, and make informed decisions.
Dr Supanit added that Aqua-IoT is made up of four major systems: the Water and Weather Monitoring System, the MuEye System, the ChemEye System, and the Minimal Lab System. The first system measures water quality (temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen) as well as weather (wind speed and direction, light intensity, and rainfall).
These variables are critical for aeration and feed management. The MuEye System is intended to track the growth of aquatic animals and parasites, whereas the ChemEye is a chemical reader that measures the levels of nitrite, ammonia, chlorine, phosphate, and pH in the pond.
Minimal Lab is a probiotic application management system that monitors bacteria growth. The system is also integrated with BIOTEC-NSTDA disease diagnostic tests for shrimp and fish, with test results automatically sent to an online database that users can access via a web browser and a message application.
Aqua-IoT technology has already been licenced to businesses, allowing the devices to be sold commercially. Its advantages include energy and feed cost savings, as well as disease risk reduction. On the first crop, a return on investment can be expected.
The research team began introducing Aqua-IoT to aquaculture farmers in the eastern region in 2020. Working closely with farmers, according to Dr Supanit, allows researchers to better understand their requirements and needs, which leads to the development of other technologies to support aquaculture farming.
An automatic shrimp counting machine for managing pond density and a lift net machine that automatically measures shrimp density for feed and water quality management are two technologies under development.
Udon Songserm, the owner of Wasin Farm in Rayong Province, shared his Aqua-IoT experience. He clearly sees the benefits of cost, time, and labour savings after having the system installed in one of his ponds. He no longer needs to be on-site all the time to keep an eye on his ponds.
Dissolved oxygen data enables him to activate aerators only when needed, rather than always having the machines on, significantly reducing energy costs. Data on water’s chemical and biological properties prompt him to take appropriate actions to avoid losses caused by toxic conditions and disease outbreaks.
Udon also stated that some of the data collected from this pond, such as temperature, can be applied to other ponds in the area. The temperature has a direct effect on dissolved oxygen and can thus be used to manage aeration.
The NSTDA is tasked with accelerating science, technology, and innovation development in Thailand to respond to industry needs and improve the country’s competitiveness in the global economy, thereby contributing to national economic and social development. NSTDA is made up of five national research centres and two organisations involved in technology transfer and business development and promotion including the NECTEC.