MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Friday said it is important for government to finally digitalize transactions nationwide, as the country plans to include more Filipinos in the financial system.
Speaking during the inauguration of UnionBank's Innovation Campus in San Pedro, Laguna, Marcos said one "silver lining" during the COVID-19 pandemic is the faster adoption of technological innovations.
It would be "neglectful," he said, if the country would not acknowledge the trend.
"Many people have discovered that this is the actual, viable way of doing business. We in government have gone a step further than that," said Marcos.
"Not only it is a viable way of doing business, it is the only way we would be doing business in the years to come and therefore we cannot allow the Philippines to be left behind," he added.
He added that the government intends to digitalize transactions and maximize its purpose, which would complement the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' 3-year digital payment transformation roadmap.
This scheme, he said, aims to transform at least half of the total retail transaction volume into digital, and also bring some 70 percent of Filipino adults in the financial system by 2023.
"It is necessary. If we are to be able to take advantages of the efficiencies that digital banking, digital transactions, and digital way of doing business affords us," said the country's leader.
"We will be... neglectful of our duties if we do not recognize the trend that is happening around the world and not only adjust to it, but position ourselves to take full advantage of it."
Embracing the technological advances means the country must improve and boost its knowledge in software development, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technologies.
"It will make it easier for not only big corporations but ordinary citizens who generally are not included in the digital world as of now, to be now included and take advantage of all the conveniences, all of the efficiencies, and all of the products that will come out of these all new technologies," Marcos said.
The central bank in March said it was important to digitalize microfinance institutions to broaden the reach of financial services and boost the shift to online payments.
Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual had said the administration aims to focus on enhancing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through technology and improve local industries.
The agency would also help MSMEs through market access and technology.
The BSP last month said based on their Financial Inclusion Survey, some 56 percent of adult Filipinos own a financial account in 2021, from just 29 percent in 2019.
At least 60 percent of those with mobile phones and internet access in 2021 performed financial transactions online, it added.