The community quarantines imposed by the government to curb the spread of covid 19 accelerated the digitalization of payments in 2020, figures from BancNet, a multi-bank electronic payment network, show. With limited mobility and risk of getting infected by the dreaded virus, people turned to cashless payments and fund transfers in the safety of their homes.
“Customers preferred to go cashless in their payments,” said BancNet CEO Aristeo Zafra, Jr. “and we see this trend to continue in the ‘new normal‘ because people have seen the value and experienced the convenience of cashless payments.”
Overall, cashless payments processed by BancNet in 2020 more than tripled compared to the volume the year before.
InstaPay, a real-timefund transfer service between different banks or e-wallets, grew the most. Transactions surged from 32.2 million in 2019 to 218.3 million at the end of 2020, a tremendous increase of 186 million or 577.7%. InstaPay is available on the mobile banking apps or Internet banking sites of 52 banks and electronic money issuers. During the months of August and September 2020, InstaPay transactions even surpassed the volume of interbank ATM cash withdrawals by 1 million transactions each month.
During the period January-February 2021, InstaPay volume reached a total of 54.65 million transactions, 372.23% higher compared to 11.57 million in the same period in 2020.
Despite purchases being largely limited to essentials, payments through point-of-sale (POS) terminals at stores and restaurants rose to 87.3 million transactions from just 75.5 million in 2019, an increase of 11.8 million, or 15.65%. When paying through a POS terminal, a customer’s payment is electronically deducted from his bank account in real-time. There were 442, 100 POS terminals across the country in 2020, 45.2% more than the number in 2019 as banks deployed 137, 615 more terminals.
As the country went into a more relaxed quarantine in the first two months of this year, payments for purchases through POS machines increased further to more than 15 million which is 1.26 million, or 9.19%higher compared to 13.77 million in the same period last year.
Cashless payment of utility, credit card, mobile phone, insurance and other bills also increased to 13.1 million switched transactions in 2020 from 7.2 million in 2019, a growth of 5.8 million transactions, or 80.26%. The bulk of bill payments were transacted on mobile banking apps (61%) and Internet banking sites (22%).
Bill payments processed by BancNet nearly doubled in the first two months of this year to a total of 2.84 million compared to only 1.49 million in the first two months of 2020. Electronic and digital bill payments eliminate the need to withdraw cash, the risk of carrying large amounts of cash, and the hassle of queueing at payment centers.More than 90 businesses and institutions can be paid through various bank channels and e-wallets.