QR Ph transactions reach P1B

Published June 25, 2021, 5:24 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

The use of QR Ph has reached almost P1 billion transactions by May of this year, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno.

QR Ph, which is the National QR Code Standard, was just P1.036 million in November 2019 when it was first launched, pre-pandemic. “QR Ph transactions have grown to close to P1 billion (P974.27 million) by May 2021,” said Diokno, noting the “steadily gaining traction” of person-to-person or P2P payments.

The use of P2P payments via QR Ph had considerable growth year-on-year as of May with P2P transactions up by 1,498 percent in volume and 6,267 percent in value.

The number of financial institutions that use QR Ph has also increased to 21 from only six during its pilot run. The QR technology standardized the QR codes that all financial institutions are using for transactions or digital payments. With QR Ph, payments and fund transfers are done by scanning the code with a mobile phone.

All throughout 2020, with the government strictly implementing health safety protocols amid the pandemic, the BSP has been pushing for the bigger adoption of the QR Ph.

As of end-March this year, the use of P2P QR Ph reported a quarterly growth rate of 152 percent in volume and 255 percent in value. “QR Ph provides a convenient, faster, and more affordable payment option between consumers during the health crisis,” said Diokno. “The recent developments in QR Ph transactions reflect the improvement in the public’s preference for digital payments,” he said during his virtual “GBED Talks” on Friday.

Since April this year, the BSP has been conducting the pilot run for the person-to-merchant or P2M via QR Ph and this will be fully launched in the third quarter or fourth quarter this year.

The QR Ph P2M will enable the unbanked small businesses, tricycle drivers, market vendors, and sari-sari store owners to transact digital payments.

“The trial run for the adoption of QR Ph P2M payments is ongoing. During this phase, pilot participants and selected merchants are testing the payment stream to ensure smooth operations upon full launch,” said Diokno. “Upon the full launch of P2M later this year, we expect to onboard more payment service providers and that enhanced features will be made available to the public.” There are seven participating financial insitutions in the pilot run.

Diokno said digital financial inclusion can be achieved. Electronic fund transfer systems PESONet and InstaPay has made inclusive digital finance real. So far, 82 financial service providers are using PESONet and 52 are using InstaPay.

In a GCash-hosted event on Friday, where Diokno spoke about digital financial inclusion, he emphasized that mobile wallet providers such as the Ayala-owned GCash can tap a bigger population of the low-income mass market especially when the biometric-based national ID is available.

“To encourage more people to open transaction accounts, it is not enough that we make it easy and affordable. Equally important is demonstrating account ownership as a basic necessity,” said Diokno. “This means we need to integrate the use of transaction account in their financial lives – whether for receiving emergency cash assistance from government or friends, or getting paid by their employers or customers.”

GCash CEO Martha Sazon said they continue to make more products and financial services that are accessible to the mass market. She said from 20 million GCash users in 2020, they now have 40 million registered users.

With 1.9 million merchants and social sellers as partners, Sazon said GCash users have more option and in fact the use of their system has increased and each user transact via GCash at least twice a day.