E-payments reach P5.5 T end Q1 – PMMI

Published May 3, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Lee C. Chipongian

The country’s e-payment transactions surged by 129 percent to P5.5 trillion in just three months or as of end-March this year from P2.4 trillion at the close of 2020, according to Philippine Payments Management Inc. (PMMI) chairman Justo A. Ortiz.

“The running rate from first quarter 2021 data is for full-year over 400 million transactions with a value of P5.5 trillion. That’s almost 70x the transaction count from 2018, a mere three years ago and about 7x the value,” said Ortiz during the April 30 launch of the InstaPay-powered QR Ph person-to-merchant (P2M) digital payment streams under the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) National Retail Payment System (NRPS). The QR Ph person-to-person (P2P) was adopted in November 2019, just before the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a global pandemic.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno (right) and Deputy Governor Mamerto Tangonan (left) successfully complete their contactless transaction by scanning the PayMaya-enabled QR Ph code for merchants using the AUB and China bank mobile apps. Launched by the BSP on April 30, QR Ph for merchants enables businesses to accept payments from customers of other banks and financial institutions for various transactions. PayMaya is the first financial technology firm to adopt the national QR code standard for merchants, which will be rolled out to its partners in the next several months.

Ortiz, former CEO and chairman of Union Bank of the Philippines, said most of these growth came from InstaPay and is “indicative of widespread adoption by the Filipino public in a short period of time” of e-payment channels.

From just six million transactions in 2018, valued at P828 billion, the pandemic-induced lockdowns last year pushed this number to over 250 million transactions in 2020 worth P2.4 trillion.

“Success favored the prepared,” said Ortiz. The Aboitiz-led Union Bank is a known digital bank in the Philippines and based on reports last week, it has already submitted an application for a digital bank license to the BSP.

Ortiz said the BSP’s target of converting 50 percent of all retail payment transactions in terms of volume into e-payments by 2023 is doable with the number of digital payment streams that will be launched this year until 2023.

“Is this (50 percent cash-lite society) realistic? Well, from six million transactions in 2018 we did over 250 million in 2020,” he said.

“There are more payment streams planned in the NRPS roadmap to be unveiled as we march forward to 2023. This gives me great confidence and optimism that inclusive prosperity is within our grasp. (It is a) reality in the making and a dream soon to be fulfilled,” said Ortiz.

The BSP is set launch and adopt two more digital payment streams in the third and fourth quarters this year, and at least one in 2022.

Aside from the QR Ph P2M, BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno announced last week that the Multiple Batch Settlement Scheme for PESONet, and the interoperable Bills Payment facility will be adopted by the third quarter this year. The Request to Pay facility, in the meantime, is scheduled to be launched in the last quarter of this year and the Direct Debit is expected to come through in 2022.

As of end-March this year, the combined volume and value of PESONet and InstaPay fund transfers reached 39 million and P552.3 billion, respectively, said Diokno.

At the moment, there are 77 banks and e-money issuers in PESONet and 52 in InstaPay.

Non-bank PayMaya said it will be the first fintech and e-wallet company to adopt QR Ph P2M.

PayMaya president Shailesh Baidwan, who spoke during Friday’s launch, said this is another “milestone in our mission to build a cashless Philippines” and to “support the BSP in its effort to accelerate digital payments around the country through the launch of QR Ph for merchants.”

PayMaya will use QR Ph standard to its 116,000 merchant partners. “For merchants, this means a more streamlined payment acceptance experience, eliminating the need to use multiple QR codes catering to single wallets or accounts,” it said.

QR Ph P2M initially, during the April to September 2021 pilot run, will be participated by six banks and one non-bank, namely, Union Bank, All Bank Inc., Asia United Bank, China Bank Corp., Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Robinsons Bank, and digital payment service provider PayMaya.