BSP to closely supervise cash agents

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star
BSP to closely supervise cash agents
The central bank has partnered with the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) to launch the agent registry for cash agents.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will closely monitor and supervise cash agents as it ramps up efforts to achieve its twin goals of financial inclusion and payments digitalization.

The central bank has partnered with the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) to launch the agent registry for cash agents.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the registry is a regulatory technology tool that would strengthen the BSP’S supervision of cash agents.

“The registry will facilitate standardized and timely collection of agent data and create a public database that will help customers locate the nearest accredited agents and their available financial services,” he said.

Cash agents are retail outlets, such as sari-sari stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, and pawnshops, that provide basic banking services, such as cash deposits, cash withdrawals, balance inquiry, fund transfer and bills payment.

There were more than 58,000 active cash agents in the Philippines, covering 85 percent of cities and municipalities reached by banking services as of end-2020.

Diokno said the regulator recognizes the role of cash agents in promoting greater financial inclusion.

“They expand the reach of financial services for the unbanked and underserved population, especially in remote areas in the countryside. Besides providing easy and convenient access, cash agents are also low-cost and less intimidating access points than ATMs,” Diokno said.

The AFI is a global network of policymakers composed of 101 member institutions from 89 countries, which aims to empower its members to advance the financial inclusion agenda through the formulation, implementation, and global advocacy of sustainable and inclusive policies.

Under the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap, the BSP aims to convert 50 percent of total retail transactions to electronic channels and increase the number of Filipino adults with bank accounts to 70 percent by 2023.

With the   pandemic serving as catalysts, estimates showed the share of digital payments to total retail transactions increased to 30 percent last year from 20.1 percent in 2020, while 53 percent of Filipino adults now have bank accounts as of the first quarter of 2021 from 29 percent in 2019.

The BSP continues to further promote the stability of the Philippine payments system through Circular 1135 specifying the guidelines on the settlement of e-payments under the National Retail Payment System (NRPS) framework.

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