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BSP eyes new clearing house for bills payments

By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Senior Reporter

THE BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is eyeing to roll out another clearing house meant to process bills payment transactions online, as they see a strong push from the retail space.

Vicente T. de Villa III, officer-in-charge of the BSP’s Financial Technology Sub-Sector, said they are studying the creation of another automated clearing house (ACH) that would focus on immediate clearing and credit for paying utility and other consumer bills, which would also include payments for government services.

“To meet this 2020 target would involve creation of other ACHs to facilitate other types of payment schemes, particularly including government payments into the picture,” Mr. De Villa said in a press briefing last week.

“This would probably involve the coordination and collaboration of PPMI (Philippine Payments Management, Inc.) to be able to review and actually push forward the creation of a bills payment ACH.”

He is referring to the central bank’s goal to raise the share of e-payments to 20% of all transactions in the Philippines by 2020, coming from a measly 1% share back in 2013.

The BSP rolled out the Philippine Electronic Fund Transfer System and Operations Network (PESONet) last year, a platform which compiles all interbank fund transfer instructions, runs a batch process, and credits the amount to the receiver by the end of the banking day.

Meanwhile, InstaPay processes real-time transfers worth P50,000 or lower, with the money sent to the destination account in a matter of seconds or minutes.

“The volumes we are seeing right now, for InstaPay there has been a catapulting increase ever since its launch. For PESONet, since its launch in November, we’ve been seeing steady volumes. [This is] showing that there is more appetite, for now, for close to immediate clearing,” Mr. De Villa added.

The central bank has required all banks and other financial firms to offer electronic banking portals and interbank transfer schemes in place by Nov. 30.

BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. previously said that he is particularly targeting to shift government payments onto digital platforms, which include the payout of worker salaries, tax collections, and even loan proceeds from state agencies.

Sought for comment, Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said on Friday that the Department of Budget and Management is by itself trying to go more digital.

“We’re trying to computerize everything, we’re moving into that direction,” the Cabinet official told reporters. “It will be more efficient.”

Apart from new clearing houses, Mr. De Villa said the BSP is separately working to develop and adopt new tools for faster online payments, including the use of quick response (QR) codes for fund transfers.

Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier has said that the central bank is on track to setting a standard for QR codes by yearend, which will allow retail customers to make payments by scanning an image using their smartphones.


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