BSP backs use of satellite technology to boost financial inclusion, disaster resilience

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2022 10:06 AM

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/FIle
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/FIle

MANILA - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Tuesday said the use of satellite technology to expand broadband services would boost financial inclusion, as well as help banks in remote areas improve disaster resiliency.

In a statement, the BSP said it supports the issuance of Executive Order No. 127 and its implementing rules which would liberalize access to satellite technology for broadband services.
 
“With enhanced access to satellite broadband services, financial institutions can improve their disaster recovery plans as part of their resilience strategy," BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said.

"They will also be able to set up more access points, such as branch lite operations, ATMs, and cash agents in underserved areas,” he added.

Cantilan Bank (CANBNK) in Mindanao, for example, turned to satellite technology to provide financial services after it was hit by typhoon Odette in December last year, the central bank said in a statement. 

The BSP said the bank installed aperture terminals (VSATs) to restore online connectivity and ATM operations at their Del Carmen and Dapa branches in Siargao City.

Siargao is among the hardest hit by Odette, the strongest typhoon in the Philippines in 2021. Odette downed power lines, telecommunication lines and major infrastructure in the Visayas and Mindanao.

“By supplementing our network redundancy measures with VSAT connectivity, the bank effectively provided a contingency measure for branches operating in disaster-stricken areas,” said CANBNK Executive Vice President Tanya Hotchkiss.

The central bank said other reforms seeking to enhance satellite technology for broadband services could boost its digitalization goals which includes turning 50 percent of payments into digital by 2023. 

President Rodrigo Duterte signed EO No. 127 in March 2021 to expand the access of internet service providers and value-added service providers to satellite systems. 

 
After the measure was signed, several government officials in Washington met with Elon Musk's SpaceX officials for the potential use of its Starlink low-orbit satellite system in the Philippines, the Trade Department has said.

Pure fiber broadband provider co-founder and CEO Dennis Uy earlier disclosed that the company was also "in talks" with SpaceX for access to Starlink to complement its service.

By using satellite technology, providers can bring internet connectivity to remote areas that are not accessible by traditional connectivity means. 

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