BSP targets unbanked sector for QR PH

Published September 27, 2021, 1:15 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

The central bank and the payments industry will roll out the Quick Response or QR Ph person-to-merchant (P2M) payments “in the coming days” to enable the unbanked small businesses, tricycle drivers, market vendors, and sari-sari store owners to transact digital payments.

BSP to launch QR Ph P2M this week

The QR Ph P2M trial run has been ongoing since July this year with both the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Philippine Payments Management Inc. (PPMI) conducting the initial adoption.

“The BSP will continue to work with the PPMI to ensure that every Filipino can have meaningful participation in an increasingly digital Philippine economy,” said BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno in a recent PPMI meeting. PPMI is a self-governing body.

“I am confident that this initiative will facilitate efficient digital payments to unbanked micro-entrepreneurs such as sari-sari store owners and tricycle drivers,” said Diokno in a statement Monday.

“These challenging times have taught us to adapt, be more agile and to find innovative ways to continue thriving,” he added. “In a way, the pandemic gave us an invaluable opportunity – and one that we must seize – to build and enhance our capacities for digital transformation.”

The BSP and PPMI are also working together to implement three other digital payment streams such as the following: the PESONet Multiple Batch Settlement (MBS) by year end; establishing an interoperable bills payment facility by early 2022; and rolling out the request-to-pay facility by the second half of 2022.

The BSP said PPMI is also collaborating with the central bank for the onboarding of more PESONet participating banks and e-money issuers to the EGov Pay ecosystem, an e-payment facility for taxes, permits, fees and other government obligations. PESONet is a batch electronic fund transfer which can be considered as an electronic alternative to the paper-based check system.

“The BSP and the payments industry are also working on the direct debit service initiative, which will enable the payer to send the payee an electronic authority to draw funds directly from the payer’s account on a regular basis. This is ideal for recurring payments such as monthly rentals, periodic loan amortizations, and quarterly insurance premiums,” said the BSP.

The first QR Ph person-to-person (P2P) facility was launched in 2019, before the pandemic.

QR Ph standardized the country’s QR Codes in 2019 which allow electronic payments and transfers by simply scanning the code. QR Ph leverages on the efficiency, safety, and affordability of the QR technology. With QR Ph, Filipino consumers can easily pay and transfer funds by scanning the code with a mobile phone. No need to bring cash, credit or debit cards. Consumers also do not have to maintain separate accounts with the payment service providers who are enrolled in QR Ph.

The BSP pilot launched the QR Ph P2M via InstaPay last April for merchants and businesses. This facility will make the QR-driven payment streams into interoperable payment solutions by just scanning the biller or merchant’s QR and customers can make payments.

Based on BSP data, QR Ph P2P transactions are growing by an average of 152 percent on a quarterly basis in terms of volume. Value-wise, it is growing by an average of 255 percent per quarter.

The use of QR Ph has reached P974.27 million or almost P1 billion transactions by May of this year from a mere P1 million in November 2019.

 
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