MANILA— There has been a “significant growth” in financial inclusion in the country driven by pandemic-fueled digitalization, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said Thursday.
The latest data from 2019 showed that only 29 percent of Filipino adults have an account but it has improved during the COVID-19 pandemic, Diokno said in a virtual briefing.
From 2019 to 2020, the number of basic deposit accounts rose 65 percent to 6.6 million from 4 million, while e-money accounts grew 94 percent to 34.7 million from 17.9 million, he said.
Online payments, digital banks and e-money issuers grew significantly in the last year as Filipinos stuck at home sought ways to complete financial transactions without leaving their homes.
“We use basic deposit account and e-money accounts as proxy indicators given these accounts are typically opened by those who are previously unbanked,” Diokno said.
The BSP’s goal is to encourage at least 70 percent of the Filipino population to open a bank account by 2023.
With the progress, Diokno said the 70 percent target is "doable by 2023, thanks to the pandemic-fueled digitalization."
Electronic distribution of cash aid through banks and e-money issuers also helped improve the financial inclusion challenge in the country, he added.
Under the country's coronavirus response law, the poorest citizens placed under hard lockdown were entitled to receive cash aid.
The government's social amelioration program facilitated the creation of new accounts for 8.5 million beneficiaries while the national ID registration with a co-location set-up with the Landbank of the Philippines for account openings also enabled 5.3 million unbanked Filipinos to open accounts, he said.
The BSP and the French Development Agency on Thursday also announced a grant facility worth P41.3 million to support financial inclusion in the country.
The BSP also aims to digitalize 50 percent of transactions by 2023.