In surprise move, BSP sets 3-year moratorium on new digital banking licenses
MANILA, Philippines—The central bank will shut the door to new digital banks in the Philippine market for at least three years to preserve a level of competition and quality of service among players while allowing regulators to learn from this relatively new banking phenomenon as well.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno announced on Thursday (Aug. 19) that the Monetary Board decided to close the window for applications from new digital banks, including converting banks, by Aug, 31, 2021.
“The closure of the application window will allow the BSP to monitor the performance and impact of digital banks on the banking system and their contribution to the financial inclusion agenda,” Diokno said at an online briefing.
“We need to ensure that the business environment continues to allow healthy competition among banks enabling them to offer innovative and competitive financial products and services to their clients,” he added.
Digital bank applications received by the BSP until month’s end will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis and will be assessed for completeness and sufficiency of documentation or information, as well as compliance with the licensing criteria on the establishment of digital banks.
Applicants that are able to submit the complete documentation on or before the closure date will be processed by the BSP.
The applications received on or before Aug. 31, 2021 with noted documentary deficiencies, or which do not meet the BSP’s pre-qualification criteria, will be returned and will not be subject to further processing. The organizers will be informed that their applications will be deemed closed.
After this date, the BSP will no longer entertain or accept new or returned applications.
To date, the Monetary Board has already approved the application of five digital banks, including two incumbent banks which have converted their existing licenses to a digital bank license. These include UNObank, UnionDigital Bank and GoTyme, while Overseas Filipino Bank Inc. and Tonik Bank are banks that converted their existing license to digital banks.
The Monetary Board approval corresponds to the first of the three-stage licensing process. The BSP is currently processing two other digital bank applications.
“As these tech-savvy, customer-centric players introduce innovations in the banking sector, we are confident that the BSP is on track to achieving its digitalization and financial inclusion goals,” Diokno said.
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