• By The Financial District

BANGKO SENTRAL PUSHING ELECTRONIC MONEY PAYMENTS

Philippine central bank deputy governor Mamerto Tangonan has long wanted to make electronic money so ubiquitous that one could pay at a street stall via mobile phone, now he’s leading the bank’s digital drive, according to a feature story from The Star of Malaysia.

“This is my life’s purpose, ” Tangonan said in a March 24 interview, his first since he took office in February.


Tangonan, 58, is the point man for the central bank’s push to convert half of all retail payments into digital form by 2023 and extend financial inclusion to 70% of Filipino adults through e-payment accounts.


Pandemic restrictions are helping the effort: Amid curbs on movement, the use of QR codes for personal transactions in the Philippines rose more than 5,600% last year.


Digital payments are widespread in parts of Asia, particularly in China, and have surged globally amid the pandemic. E-payments are seen as a gateway toward other services like loans and insurance, a boon for the 65% of Filipinos who don’t have a financial account – the highest proportion among major South-East Asian economies, according to the World Bank.


Greater adoption of digital transactions could add as much as three percentage points to the country’s economy, central bank governor Benjamin Diokno has said. Tangonan said he’s first targeting the 88% of Filipino smartphone owners who don’t use their phones for payments.


One strategy could be a national payments system based on QR codes that could be used in businesses ranging from family-run convenience stores to utility companies.


A unified, national bill-settlement facility is also in the works this year, Tangonan said.



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