Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno on Tuesday (Dec. 28) once again expressed confidence that half of all retail payments across the Philippines will be digital or ePayments, pointing to the surge in electronic transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Diokno also sees the target of 70% of Filipino adults having bank or eMoney accounts by 2023 as well within reach, according to a Manila Bulletin report. Both seem possible as digitalization and financial inclusion are more in focus across the country.
“We are confident of hitting the twin goals,” said Diokno at the HSBC Digital Bankers Forum. The “proportion of ‘banked’ Filipino adults have reached 53% in the first quarter of 2021, nearing the target of 70%,” according to the BSP.
“With financial digitalization, I am confident that we will achieve the stronger post-COVID economy that we envision sooner rather than later,” Diokno said.
Digital payments made up 20.1% of total financial transactions in the Philippines in 2020, up from 14% in 2019 and 1% in 2013.
“As more Filipinos embrace the convenience of digital payments, we expect the phenomenal growth in digital financial transactions to continue in the years ahead,” said Diokno.
In August, Diokno announced that the country’s central bank would stop accepting digital banking applications on Sept. 1 to allow regulators “to monitor” the industry.
This summer, the Monetary Board approved the applications of five digital banks, including UNObank, UnionDigital Bank and GoTyme. Two of the approved institutions — Overseas Filipino Bank Inc. and Tonik Bank — have converted their existing licenses to digital ones.
The Monetary Board’s approval is the first of three steps banks must take to get a digital bank license in the Philippines.
In July, BSP suspended social media platform Lyka’s activities as an operator of payment systems as part of a FinTech crackdown by local officials until it registered as an operator of payment systems.
In October 2020, the Filipino government considered scaling back the number of digital banks in the country, with Diokno saying the digital-first mindset is accelerating.