BSP to launch QR code, expands e-payments for government transactions

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is set to launch peer-to-peer transactions using the national quick response (QR) code, as it expands the list of government transactions covered by electronic payments.

Vicente de Villa, managing director of the BSP’s Financial Technology Sub-Sector, said the use of QR codes for peer-to-peer transactions would minimize, if not eliminate, errors in the input of account details.

“With the QR, all you have to do is scan the QR, potential errors in the input of the account will be removed. Plus, the QR of one institution will be standardized similar to the QR of other institutions,” De Villa told reporters on the sidelines of the Financial Inclusion Forum for the labor sector.

The QR technology has emerged as the most convenient and cost efficient means of moving funds from one account to another. A QR code contains most, if not all of the critical information such as account name and account number that are required to be specified in a payment instruction.

Hence, the use of interoperable QR codes has been gaining traction as an alternative to the traditional debit and credit cards. It is faster and easier to just scan the code than to dip or swipe a card, and sign a charge slip.

De Villa added that the rules on the peer-to-business transaction using QR codes are now being finalized in preparation for the launching next year.

“There are rules that are being worked out. We are hoping for that to happen no later than the first half of 2020,” he added.

The private sector-led Philippine Payments Management Inc. (PPMI) has notified the regulator about the adoption of the EMV QR Code as the national QR code for payment and financial services.

With the approval, payment service providers are required to adopt the national QR code standard within 30 days from the date of notification.

However, the BSP has given banks and financial institutions until end June next year to comply due to the huge number of providers offering QR-enabled payment services.

The adoption of a QR code standard on a national scale is expected to bring more Filipinos as well as micro and small enterprises onboard the financial system.

The merchants simply need to print out the code on a piece of paper and display the code for their clients to scan using a smartphone. This operational requirement entails much lower cost than investing in electronic data capture equipment like point-of-sale terminals that are usually needed for card-based payment transactions.

The adoption of a national standard is another collaborative initiative between the BSP and the PPMI under the National Retail Payment System (NRPS) launched in December 2015 to raise the level of cashless transactions to about 20 percent by 2020 from the previous one percent.

Likewise, De Villa said the BSP is expanding the list of government transactions covered by e-payments via the PESONet (Philippine EFT System Operations Network) from the current tax payments only.

He added e-payments is being expanded to cover the services rendered by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Land Transportation Office (LTO), among others to augment the tax payments for the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

 “We would like more government agencies to partake. We would like to have other government agencies to be included. Perhaps, LTO, DFA, and all those other agencies that have frontline licensing and front line payments made by the public,” De Villa added.

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