MANILA - The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) has announced the inaugural "Nestor Espenilla Jr Financial Inclusion Innovation Award" to honor the late Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor's contribution in the Philippines and globally, the central bank said Thursday.
Malaysia-based AFI is a global network of 82 members from 75 countries composed of central banks and financial regulators globally, the BSP said in a statement.
Established with funding support from Flourish Ventures, the award is meant to recognize the commitment to innovation and the use of technology to improve financial inclusion, it said.
Espenilla was the central bank governor from 2017 until 2019. He succumbed to tongue cancer at age 60.
He is known to have played a critical role in pushing for financial innovation and inclusion in the country, the BSP said.
Electronic fund transfer systems InstaPay and PESONet, which were part of the broader National Retail Payment System (NRPS), were set up under Espenilla’s term. Espenilla called these innovations "digital highways."
Digitalization and the onboarding of at least 70 percent of the adult population to the formal banking system by 2023 remain as top priority of the BSP.
The late governor's wife, Maria Teresita Espenilla said in a message that "by serving as the inspiration for the award that will, in turn, inspire the efforts of others, my husband continues to support and contribute to the work of the AFI in harnessing the power of technology and innovation in order to bring about greater inclusion for many more unbanked people.”
The Central Bank of Egypt was the first recipient of the Nestor Espenilla Jr Financial inclusion Innovation Award, recognized during the 2022 AFI Global Policy Forum last Sept. 5 to Sept. 8 at the Dead Sea in Jordan, the BSP said.
The winner will receive AFI support to implement an innovation project for financial inclusion, it added.