Digital 'highway' to accelerate financial inclusion: Espenilla

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 25 2018 06:36 AM | Updated as of Aug 25 2018 10:17 AM

Consumers exchange peso bills. Erik de Castro, Reuters/File

MANILA -- The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is helping build digital highways to bring financial services to more Filipinos, Governor Nestor Espenilla said, as he bet on mobile phones and the upcoming National ID to fast-track the process.

Espenilla, who assumed office in July last year, is pushing for an electronic fund transfer system called InstaPay and an automated clearing house dubbed PESONet under a broader regulatory framework, the National Retail Payment System.

"We’re basically building financial rails," Espenilla said. "We’re building the highways that will connect every Filipino to every Filipino on an account by account basis."

Only 22.6 percent of Filipino adults have a formal financial account, including 11.5 percent with a bank account, a 3-point decline over 2 years, according to the BSP's 2017 Financial Inclusion Survey.

"Now with technology and the fact that a lot of our people are very digital savvy, particularly with the mobile phone, that’s a great opportunity to be able to deliver financial services," Espenilla said in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss.

"The National ID is very important. In fact we’ve always identified that as a key element that will actually fast track everything and for that purpose the BSP actually has been an active collaborator with the other government agencies in getting this law enacted," he said.

Achieving 20 percent digitization of retail payments by 2020 "is not only very reachable it can easily be surpassed," Espenilla said.

"Once these foundations were put in place, the providers are there then more importantly merchants start adopting it so that they system becomes a close loop then it can become explosive," he said.

The Bangko Sentral is "open-minded" in allowing new microfinance players to come in and encourage competition.

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