• By The Financial District


Five million more Filipinos have opened bank accounts in 2019, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Citing its own survey, BSP, which is pushing for financial literacy, said that the share of Filipino adults who own an account climbed from 23 percent in 2017 to 29 percent in 2019 which translates to five million bank accounts.

BSP’s  Financial Inclusion Survey (FIS) conducted from February to March this year showed that  accounts held in a formal institution including banks, e-money issuers, and microfinance institutions (MFIs) is a basic indicator of financial inclusion increased last year.

The 2019 FIS was conducted in February to March 2020 just before the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.  

Accordingly, the survey results - even as they already suggest significant progress - do not yet reflect the accelerated adoption of digital financial services seen in the midst and in the wake of the pandemic.

The 6-percentage point increase in account penetration represents an additional 5 million Filipinos opening an account within that two-year period, a notable improvement from the 0.6 percentage point growth in 2017 from 2015.

Growth was largely driven by e-money accounts which rose to 8% in 2019 from 1% in 2017. MFI accounts also grew from 8% in 2017 to 12%, on par with bank accounts which barely moved from 11.5% in 2017.

As uptake of e-money accounts significantly grew, so did the share of accountholders who use their account for payment transactions – such as fund transfers and bills payment – which more than doubled to 39% in 2019 from 18% in 2017.

The number of Filipino adults who are unbanked is estimated at 51.2 million, out of a total adult population of 72 million in 2019.

Lack of enough money remains the topmost reason for not having an account, as reported by almost half (45%) of the unbanked. 


This is followed by perceived lack of need for an account (27%) and lack of documentary requirements (26%). 

The survey revealed that only 40% of adults are aware of the basic deposit account (BDA), a low-cost, easy-to-open bank account introduced as a policy initiative of the BSP in 2018 designed to address the cited  barriers.