More Filipinos open bank accounts as online shopping, payments boom
A third of Filipinos now hold bank accounts – allowing them to save money or make and receive payments, wages or financial assistance – thanks to a growing demand among consumers for digital payment services, the central bank said on Sunday.
In a press statement, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas quoted the World Bank’s 2017 Global Findex study that showed 34.5 percent of Filipinos aged 15 and above now have direct access to the formal financial system, up from 31.3 percent in 2014.
“While gains are modest, the Philippines made remarkable strides in indicators pertaining to digital payments,” the BSP said.
It noted that the share of adults who used the internet to pay bills or make online purchases grew by 6.3 percentage points to 9.9 percent in 2017. Those who made or received digital payments in the past year rose by 5.6 percentage points to 25.1 percent in 2017.
“The prospects look bright as the Philippines takes deliberate measures towards digitization,” it said.
“Formal accounts” refer to those held in financial institutions such as banks, cooperatives or microfinance institutions and can be an electronic money account, as well.
Formal account penetration in the country improved by 3.2 percentage points between 2014 and 2017, translating to more than 3.7 million Filipino adults who opened accounts during the period.
The 2017 Global Findex also highlighted key challenges to disadvantaged segments such as farmers and small businesses. Those who borrowed to start, operate or expand a farm or business declined to 4.2 percent in 2017 from 13.6 percent in 2014. One in five adults received payments for the sale of agricultural goods, slightly unchanged from 2014 to 2017.
Compared with its Asean peers, the Philippines ranked in the middle with Singapore (97.9 percent) and Cambodia (21.7 percent) at opposite ends of the spectrum. The country’s level of account ownership fell short of the average for East Asia and the Pacific (70.6 percent) and lower middle income countries (57.8 percent).
The results of the 2017 Global Findex will be augmented by the upcoming release of BSP’s own financial inclusion survey. The local survey will provide a more in depth look at the state of financial inclusion in the country to complement the topline country indicators of Global Findex.
The BSP is focusing its financial inclusion work to sectors that previously neglected sectors such as agriculture and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The approach goes involves creating a financing ecosystem that supports value chains and addresses fundamental issues in the financial infrastructure in terms of guarantees, crop insurance, movable collateral registry, and credit information system, among others. /cbb
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.