BancNet notes sustained rise in cashless payments

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Multi-bank, multi-channel electronic payments network operator BancNet expects a sustained increase in cashless payments this year amid strict mobility and quarantine measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

BancNet chief executive officer Aristeo Zafra Jr. said consumers would continue to shift to cashless payments and fund transfers in the safety of their homes amid limited mobility and risk of getting infected by the virus.

“Customers preferred to go cashless in their payments. We see this trend to continue in the ‘new normal‘ because people have seen the value and experienced the convenience of cashless payments,” Zafra said.

From January to February alone, BancNet said InstaPay transactions reached 54.65 million or almost five times the 11.57 million recorded in the first two months of last year.

BancNet also reported a nine percent increase in payment transactions through point-of-sales (POS) machines to 15 million in January and February this year compared to last year’s 13.77 million.

Furthermore, bill payments processed by BancNet nearly doubled in the first two months of this year to 2.84 million from 1.49 million in the first two months of 2020.

BancNet said electronic and digital bill payments eliminate the need to withdraw cash, the risk of carrying large amounts of cash, and the hassle of falling in line at payment centers.

More than 90 businesses and institutions can be paid through various bank channels and e-wallets.

Under its three-year Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) committed to shift at least 50 percent of total transactions to digital channels and double the number of Filipino adults with transactional accounts to 70 percent by 2023.

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst to digitalization as Filipino consumers shifted to electronic transactions as the country imposed the longest and strictest lockdown in the world to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

InstaPay transactions, a real-time fund transfer service between different banks or e-wallets, reached 218.3 million last year or almost seven times the 32.2 million recorded in 2019.

During August and September last year, InstaPay transactions even surpassed the volume of interbank ATM cash withdrawals by one million transactions each month.

Despite purchases being largely limited to essentials, payments through POS terminals at stores and restaurants booked a double-digit increase to 87.3 million from 75.5 million.

There were 442,100 POS terminals across the country in 2020, 45.2 percent more than the number in 2019 as banks deployed 137,615 more terminals.

Likewise, cashless payment of utility, credit card, mobile phone, insurance and other bills almost doubled to 13.1 million from 7.2 million. The bulk of bill payments were transacted on mobile banking apps with 61 percent and Internet banking sites with 22 percent.


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