Groundwork helped PH financial system survive COVID—BSP chief
MANILA, Philippines—The groundwork laid by the central bank years ago to create interoperable payment systems proved crucial in helping the Philippine financial system keep running at the height of the pandemic when personal mobility was highly restricted, according to the head of the agency.
At the recent MUFG online briefing, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said the regulator’s pre-pandemic initiatives made it easier for Filipinos to adopt digital payments adoption during the health crisis.
“Even before the pandemic, the BSP was able to lay out the critical foundations to an interoperable National Retail Payment System that allowed payment service providers to innovate and offer responsive digital payment products and services,” he said.
“These helped ease the burden of Filipinos given the social mobility restrictions brought about by the health protocols,” he added.
Launched in 2015, the National Retail Payment System is a policy and regulatory framework that aims to set up a safe, efficient, reliable and interoperable retail payment system. Its goal is to allow every Filipino access to financial services and have accounts to make payments and receive or transfer funds to other accounts anytime, anywhere, at a reasonable price from any digital device.
A key initiative was the rollout of automated clearinghouses, lnstaPay and PESONet, which allows fund transfers among account holders from different banks.
One goal set out in the payment system was to increase the adoption of electronic retail payments from 1 percent of total payments in 2013 to 20 percent by 2020.
“We have achieved our target of reaching 20 percent of digital payments volume in 2020 — one of the silver linings of this pandemic, if I may say,” Diokno said.
The acceleration in digital payments was driven by person-to-merchant payments and person-to-person payments, including electronic fund transfers.
During his presentation, the Diokno shared positive economic developments that suggest recovery is in sight.
“We forecast that the economy will grow by 7-9 percent in 2022 and 6-7 percent in 2023 and 2024 on the basis of the accelerated vaccine rollout, continued implementation of its bold infrastructure program, the effective implementation of recent reforms, and the enactment of proposed structural reforms,” he said.
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