BSP targets to double number of Filipinos with bank accounts

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) continues to ramp up its financial inclusion efforts in its bid to double the number of Filipinos with formal bank accounts to 70 percent by 2023 from the current 35 percent.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a forum yesterday that the regulator is relying heavily on financial technology to further reduce the number of unbanked Filipinos.

“I think the use of that medium will accelerate in the future. Right now, 35 percent of the population have formal account and we want to achieve 70 percent in 2023. That is our target,” Diokno said.

Data on financial inclusion released by the World Bank in May last year showed only 34.5 percent of Filipinos 15 years old and above have a formal bank account.

This was 3.2 percentage points higher compared to the 31.3 percent booked in 2014.

The Global Findex Database 2017: Measuring Financial Inclusion and the Fintech Revolution showed the share of Filipino adults who used the internet to pay bills or buy products or services online grew by 6.3 percentage points to 9.9 percent in 2017.

On the other hand, Filipinos who made or received digital payments in 2017 increased by 5.6 percentage points to 25.1 percent.

Based on the BSP’s 2017 Financial Inclusion Survey (FIS), only 15.8 million adult Filipinos or 22.6 percent of the total population have bank accounts, while 52.8 million or 77.4 percent remain unbanked.

As for an approximate breakdown of the banked Filipino adults, 11.5 percent of them are in the formal banking sector. Around 8.1 percent are in non-government microfinance organizations, 2.9 percent are in cooperatives, and 0.3 percent are in non-stock savings and loan associations.

Only 1.3 percent of adults have electronic money accounts.

Diokno said the Philippines has to embrace technology citing China wherein QR codes or mobile phones are used in the transactions instead of cash.

“So let us not fight it and at the same time let BSP do its job which is to be cautious,” he added.

The BSP chief said the regulator has to make sure that any technology that would be introduced to the Filipinos is safe.

Diokno said the BSP would continue to pursue the “sand box” approach in making room for market players to leverage on new technologies.

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