By Joann Santiago
MANILA, June 14 (PNA) — A national payment system that will unify transactions from banks, mobile phones and other channels is targeted for the Philippines by 2018.
Pia Roman-Tayag, head of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas'(BSP) Inclusive Finance Advocacy Staff, said they are currently checking the necessary measures to ensure the safety and efficiency of the said payment system.
“This one is to make electronic payments interoperable,” she said.
Tayag explained that this is very important specially to people in far-flung areas where banks do not have offices.
She cited that since the Philippines is an archipelago there is a need to maximize the benefits of technological innovations to widen access to financial inclusion.
Among the major factors now being looked into is how to have a clearing operator that will ensure that transactions are transparent as well as how to address pricing and governance issues.
Tayag said the central bank does not want to implement this payment system without making sure that this is transparent, efficient, designed properly and that there is enough competition and cooperation among stakeholders.
“Security and privacy is a big issue that’s why we need to get it right,” she stressed.
The central bank official said there are about 8,900 banks and bank branches in the country but agents of electronic money (e-money) such as drug stores and small store owners have larger number at about 10,000.
She said e-money services are the initial steps to increase financial inclusion among the poor, thus, the need to put up interoperability among all modes of payment.
Relatively, Tayag said the central bank will soon release the result of its survey on public’s appreciation, particularly the poor, and grasp on the financial system in the country.
She said initial results of the said survey show that most Filipinos are not enjoying benefits of reforms and innovations on this banking sector.
She disclosed that initial results of the said demand-side survey indicated that 40 percent of the respondents have savings but 68 percent of them put their savings at home.
“They’re not enjoying the benefits of saving in an institution that is protected and regulated,” she said.
Also, instead of relying on banks most of the respondents said they borrow mostly from family members and friends, with some of them taking out loans from informal lenders who charge very high rates.
“These are opportunities for growth in terms of providing financial services. This is a market that needs the service and can actually pay for the service,” she added. (PNA)