Before going cashles
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - December 18, 2018 - 12:00am

Getting more Filipinos to trust banks is already a big challenge for the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas, but its goal of getting cashless transactions to rise to at least 20 percent of total transactions by 2020 would be, simply put, something of interest to observe.

The BSP is relying on the rise of smartphones, a tech-savvy young generation, better internet services, and more merchant retailers going cashless to be able to create a surge in the use of e-payment channels – ultimately, to improve financial inclusiveness in the country.

A series of measures have been adopted by the central bank to encourage more Filipinos to move away from purely cash transactions. In 2014, the BSP adopted the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI) to help uplift the lives of our countrymen.

Last year, the National Retail Payment System was launched as part of the NSFI, and its goal is to raise the share of digital transactions from a poor one percent to 20 percent over a three-year period.

This is why we’ve been seeing fintechs like PayMaya, Globe Cash, Grab Cash, and actively promoting electronic money transfers and payments to provide the intermediary step for the unbanked to trust cashless transactions.

Late last year, the BSP introduced the Philippine EFT System and Operations Network or PESONet, the first automated clearing house that settles funds in batches, and provides an electronic alternative to the still popular check system.

Real-time money transactions

The BSP has also partnered with BancNet for InstaPay, a real-time fund transfer system capable of handling money transactions of up to P50,000 per transaction, but with no limit to the number of transactions in a day. All banks are expected to be using InstaPay within this year.

For banks, InstaPay will be an opportunity to further save money on physical transactions. Clearing checks involves numerous procedures, which makes it a cumbersome practice that many banks now are just too willing to ditch for an electronic system like InstaPay.

On the other hand, bank customers will find merit in InstaPay by being able to transfer or pay money real time at any time of the day without having to physically go to the bank or an electronic fund transfer service.

Handling cash this Christmas season

We’ll discuss more on the government’s push for financial inclusiveness, as well as its other initiatives supporting this move in the next column. Meanwhile, let’s give way to a reader, Jaz Buñag from BancNet, who sent comments on our last column as well as tips for the holiday shopping. Here goes.

“Thank you for your very interesting, informative and helpful article on the risks of online shopping in (the Dec. 13) issue of The Philippine STAR.

“You are right about the growing trend of online shopping among Filipinos, what with the heavy promotions by online shopping sites lately. However, a great majority of consumers still shop at brick and mortar stores, and during this holiday season, at bazaars and tiangges for great bargains.

“For this, and for cash gifts, they withdraw cash at ATMs, especially those without credit cards. Historically, cash withdrawal transactions surge on the payday and/or Friday before Christmas. That (on Dec. 21). 

“Thus, I wish to share with your readers some reminders for safe ATM transactions. For although ATM risks have been greatly reduced by the EMV technology, certain risks still remain; fraudsters are always one step ahead.”

Here are the 10 tips that our reader sent, as well as more information on InstaPay.

ATM safety reminders

Be aware of your surroundings. Always be vigilant when using an ATM, especially at night. Pay close attention to the area throughout the entire transaction.

If possible, choose ATMs in well-lit areas. Avoid poorly lit machines with too many obstructions.

Have your ATM card ready before you approach a machine. Don’t wait until you’re at the ATM before you take out your card from your wallet or purse.

Visually check an ATM for signs of tampering or for possible skimming devices. Check the keypad, card slot, and cash receptacle. If you see or touch anything suspicious, report it to the bank. Do not proceed with your transaction and go to another ATM.

Cover the keypad and screen when entering your PIN. Memorize your PIN and never write it down.

Do not let others see your transaction amount. Be sure to get your receipt.

Put away your cash, ATM card, and receipt as soon as you’re done with the transaction. Never count your cash in front of the machine or in view of other people.

Do not accept help from other people when using an ATM. Do not tell anyone your PIN.

If you notice anyone or anything suspicious in the area or if you feel unsafe, cancel your transaction and leave the area immediately.

Always monitor your bank balances for signs of suspicious activities. Report any problems to your bank.

Using InstaPay

To avoid withdrawing and carrying big amounts of cash, there’s InstaPay.

With InstaPay, you can securely send or transfer money from your bank account or e-wallet using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Simply access your bank’s or electronic money issuer’s (EMI) mobile app or through internet banking anytime, anywhere you may be. The recipient instantly receives the money in his bank account or e-money account, without any charges deducted. 

Electronic payment network BancNet is the clearing switch operator of InstaPay. BancNet has 120 members including banks, affiliate switch networks, and EMIs. Ask your bank if they support instaPay.

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Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at For a compilation of previous articles, visit

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