Digital transactions double to P417.7 billion during lockdown

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The value of digital transactions almost doubled to P417.68 billion for the months of March and April compared to a year-ago level of P212.61 billion as more Filipinos opted to tap electronic channels amid the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno noted the importance of shifting consumer behavior toward e-payments, considering the limitations on people’s movement and activities amid the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic.

Diokno said e-payment services via the PESONet and InstaPay have allowed individuals and organizations to easily transfer money from their accounts to any recipient account with any participating financial institution around the country.

“They can do this within the comfort of their homes through online banking, mobile apps and e-wallets, using any digital device with internet connection. By using e-payments with due care and vigilance, Filipinos reduce their need for mobility and prevent health risks from face-to-face and over-the-counter financial transactions,” he said.

PESONet and InstaPay serve as automated clearing houses for electronic fund transfers under the National Retail Payment System (NRPS) launched by the BSP in December 2015 to provide an enabling environment for a safe, efficient, affordable and inclusive digital finance ecosystem.

Data released by the central bank yesterday showed the number of PESONet and InstaPay transactions reached 17.3 million for the months of March and April or 3.4 times last year’s 5.07 million during the same months last eyar.

For the month of March alone, the value of PESONet transactions surged by 61 percent to P148.55 billion from P92.44 billion in the same month last year as the number of transactions increased to 1.22 million from 892,145.

For April, the value jumped by 88 percent to P176.26 billion from P93.55 billion as the number of transactions went up by nine percent to 1.02 million from 939,690.

On the other hand, the value of InstaPay deals surged by 237 percent to P43.36 billion in March from P12.88 billion as the number of transactions jumped by 235 percent to 6.7 million from 1.58 million.

Likewise, the value zoomed 260 percent to P49.5 billion in April from P13.73 billion in the same month last year as the number of transactions jumped by 403 percent to 8.36 million from 1.66 million.

Diokno said there was a significant decline in the volume and value of check payments and ATM withdrawals from the start of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon last March 17 up to April 2 versus the March 1 to 16 period.

“This downtrend reflects the effect of the enhanced community quarantine on the check-based and cash-based financial transactions of businesses, households, and individuals. These data indicate a clear opportunity for digital payment channels and services, such as PESONet and InstaPay,” the BSP chief said.

PESONet launched in November 2017 is appropriate for high value transactions of companies, other businesses, government entities, and individuals, while InstaPay introduced in April 2018 is used for urgent and small value retail transactions.

Diokno said fees for the fund transfer services have in fact been waived for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine period.

The BSP has also launched the eGov Pay facility, allowing more government agencies, such as the Bureau on Internal Revenue (BIR), to accept electronic payments from the public as well as the National QR code standard paving the way for more extensive use of QR codes as payments.

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