(PN File)

The existing online or digital payments systems in the Philippines is set for an upgrade with an array of new initiatives designed to advance payments digitalization and financial inclusion in the country.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said the new systems set for rollout by the Philippine Payments Management, Inc. (PPMI), a self regulatory governing body accredited by the Central Bank, will be able to expand payments digitalization to the broader population.

“The BSP will continue to work with the Philippine Payments Management, Inc. (PPMI) to ensure that every Filipino can have meaningful participation in an increasingly digital Philippine economy,” Diokno said during a recent PPMI meeting.

Run by payment industry participants, the PPMI is a self-governing body that is accredited by the BSP as the country’s payment system management body.

“I am confident that this initiative will facilitate efficient digital payments to unbanked micro-entrepreneurs such as sari-sari store owners and tricycle drivers,” Diokno said in a statement released by the Central Bank.

One of PPMI’s key initiatives is the full launch of QR Ph for person-to-merchant (P2M) payments, in the coming days. Quick Response or QR technology entails code scanning and benefits consumers through faster, easier, and cheaper payment options with greater convenience.

The BSP and PPMI are also collaborating on implementing the PESONet Multiple Batch Settlement (MBS) by year end; establishing an interoperable bills payment facility by early 2022; and rolling out the request-to-pay facility by Q2 2022.

From once a day, MBS will increase the frequency of PESONet settlements to two times a day. This will speed up the payment process for high-value transfers and support funding requirements for businesses. PESONet is a batch electronic fund transfer which can be considered as an electronic alternative to the paper-based check system.

The interoperable bills payment facility, on the other hand, will enable billers to collect from their customer through digital means, even if the payment service providers of the billers are different from those of the customers.

The request to pay facility, meanwhile, will empower payees to initiate collections by simply sending a request-to-pay to the payor. Payors need not initiate the payment nor get the account details of the payee and will just need to confirm/authorize the payee’s request for payment.

PPMI, likewise, is working on the onboarding of more PESONet participating banks and e-money issuers to the EGov Pay ecosystem, an e-payment facility for taxes, permits, fees and other government obligations.

The BSP and the payments industry are also working on the direct debit service initiative, which will enable the payer to send the payee an electronic authority to draw funds directly from the payer’s account on a regular basis.  This is ideal for recurring payments such as monthly rentals, periodic loan amortizations, and quarterly insurance premiums.

“These challenging times have taught us to adapt, be more agile and to find innovative ways to continue thriving. In a way, the pandemic gave us an invaluable opportunity – and one that we must seize – to build and enhance our capacities for digital transformation,” Diokno said.