WB president urges PH to use digital for financial inclusion

Published October 28, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Chino S. Leyco

The World Bank (WB) is encouraging innovations using digital technology to expand financial inclusion in the Philippines, the head of the Washington-based multilateral institution to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III.

World Bank President David Malpass. (Reuters)
World Bank President David Malpass. (Reuters)

In a recent meeting with Dominguez in the US capital, World Bank President David Malpass said the Philippines’ robust economy offers many opportunities for the government to “reguide” its digitalization efforts to empower Filipinos.

He said the Philippines’ efforts to kickstart its digitalization program with the passage of a national identification (ID) law that aims to unify and streamline an identification system for all Filipino citizens.

Malpass said the use of new technologies, particularly digital currency and remittances, “can open new avenues” for marginalized sectors to participate in the economy.

He pointed out this is why the World Bank is now studying how innovations can directly benefit people while encouraging them to avail of state-provided social services, such as healthcare.

“This is an opportunity because you have so many things going on where you can reguide the program,” Malpass said told Dominguez.

Dominguez, meanwhile, welcomed Malpass’ support for digitalization as a way to expand financial inclusion in developing economies.

He told Malpass that the Philippine government has long been implementing a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, in which the lowest-income households in the country receive cash grants on condition that they fulfill certain conditions.

The CCT program “has worked pretty well” because of the assistance extended by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to the government, Dominguez said.

He also said the passage of a national ID Law, which will be implemented on a pilot basis starting the first quarter of next year, will significantly improve the delivery of the CCT program.

“That’s all good,” Malpass said on learning from Dominguez the Philippines’ efforts to digitalize its government services.

According to World Bank country director for the Philippines Mara Warwick, the multilateral institution is providing technical assistance to the Philippines for the rollout of its national ID system.