Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have urged Filipinos to use e-payments amid the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to prevent exposure to COVID-19. E-payment reduces physical contact for it minimizes face-to-face and over-the-counter transactions.
“We can do our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19 by staying home,” said BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, who in turn encouraged Filipinos to opt for e-payment scheme to minimize health risks.
Diokno urged Filipinos to opt for “e-payment services such as PESONet and InstaPay when doing transactions like purchasing essentials like food and medicines, transferring money on the accounts of loved ones, paying utility bills, loans and other obligations.
“The service fees have been waived by authorized financial institutions during the ECQ period,” said Diokno
InstaPay enables an account holder to transfer money up to PhP50,000 per day, immediately credited to a recipient account in any participating financial institution. InstaPay is designed for urgent and small value transactions.
On the other hand, PESONet is designed for high value transactions of companies, other businesses, government agencies and individuals. It is the electronic alternative for transferring funds via checks. Money transfers made under PESONet have no transaction limit per day. Crediting to the recipient account is on the same banking day, provided that a sender transfers money within the cut-off time set by financial institutions.
As of 31 March 2020, InstaPay is being offered by 45 financial institutions1, while PESONet is offered by 56 financial institutions2 as key services for their account holders. These services provide convenient, safe, and secure alternatives to face-to-face cash or check transactions. They can be used by individuals for person-to-person money transfers, remittances, bill payments, or payments to merchant accounts for purchases of goods and services. Companies and other businesses can also benefit from these services when accepting client payments, and when paying their suppliers, creditors and employees’ salaries.
Subject to appropriate institutional arrangements, government agencies may leverage on InstaPay and PESONet to facilitate person-to-government transactions such as tax payments, or government-to-person transactions such as the distribution of monetary benefits under the Social Amelioration Program of the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act.
The Governor also noted that e-payments can be conveniently accessed by account holders of banks and e-money issuers. Individuals without existing accounts can take advantage of online onboarding facilities of banks offering basic deposit accounts, and the online e-wallet creation offered by e-money issuers. He further advised Filipinos to exercise due diligence and utmost vigilance when performing e-payments and other online transactions in view of potential risks, such as phishing, spoofing, fraud and scams.
Usage of e-payments reduces people’s need for mobility, helps prevent health risks of physical contact during over-the-counter transactions, partially addresses difficulties of providing cash supply to ATMs and bank branches, and supports the general objectives of the ongoing ECQ.
The BSP has been actively promoting e-payments. It issued BSP Circular No. 980 in 2017 to provide the policy framework for the establishment of a National Retail Payment System (NRPS). PESONet and InstaPay were among the priority automated clearing houses established under the NRPS. The number of e-payment transactions in the Philippines grew from 1% in 2013 to 10% in 2018. The value of these e-payments also rose from 8% to 20% over the same period.3
3 Better than Cash Alliance at https://www.betterthancash.org/tools-research/case-studies/country-diagnostic-the-philippines-2019-edition