Digitalization 'kept economic gears running' in 2020, says BSP chief Diokno

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2021 05:35 PM

Digitalization 'kept economic gears running' in 2020, says BSP chief Diokno 1
Citizens use their phones in Quezon City during the modified enhanced community quarantine on August 16, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said Friday digitalization has been instrumental in keeping the economy afloat while the country was in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic last year.

The use of PesoNet and Instapay surged in 2020 while the demand for coins, ATM withdrawals and cheque payments declined, Diokno said during a BSP virtual event. 

Payments made via PesoNet, or the bulk transfer of funds over P50,000, rose 188 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 with 951.6 billion transactions, he said.

Meanwhile, the use of InstaPay, or the real-time transfer of funds up to P50,000, reached 86.7 million transactions, up 459 percent year-on-year, he said.

"Digitalization is among the few things that helped us continue with our daily lives during the pandemic. Imagine the risk of exposure if one has to physically pay bills and buy food, medicines and other essential supplies," Diokno said. 

"It’s a good thing that the country has been gradually embracing financial technology even before the pandemic hit. For me it prepared us for the worst," he added.

Diokno said new online sign-ups and app downloads grew 100 percent from January to April last year.

There was also a "significant decline" in the value and volume of cheque payments and ATM withdrawals last year. 

Coin demand also fell 57 percent in volume and 67 percent in value compared to 2019, the official said. 

Millions of Filipinos were forced to stay at home when the government imposed a lockdown in mid-March last year to stem the spread of COVID-19. The measure shuttered businesses, schools and public transport.

Various government agencies have also tapped e-wallets and other online channels to effectively distribute aid, he said.

"While it kept the economic gears running through the quarantine it was also instrumental in distributing welfare benefits and wage subsidy," Diokno said.

The BSP has been pushing for the growth of online payments in the country with PesoNet and InstaPay under its National Retail Payment System (NRPS).


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