BSP: E-Wallets Now Contribute 40% of Retail Transactions

Learn more on the rapid growth of digital payments in the Philippines, with over 40% of total retail transactions now conducted digitally.

Photo for the Article - BSP: E-Wallets Now Contribute 40% of Retail Transactions
  • Digital payments in the Philippines have surged, accounting for over 40% of total retail transactions, and the BSP aims to reach 50% by the end of this year.
  • The BSP envisions a cashless Philippines by 2025; its Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap targets digitizing 50% of retail payments and including 70% of Filipino adults in the formal financial system.
  • The central bank has been actively creating projects and initiatives to boost the use of digital payments as well as financial inclusion in the country.

During the pandemic, physical restrictions have been made to ensure that people do not contract the virus; following this, mobile e-wallets and digital banks supporting cashless payments have emerged and soared in popularity among Filipinos.

Three years after, although restrictions have been lifted, digital payments continue to prevail and just recently, then-Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe M. Medalla shared that digital payments now account for more than 40% of the total volume of retail transactions in the country

Digital Payments in PH

According to the latest data from the central bank, digital payments surged to 30.3% of the volume of retail transactions in 2021–a significant increase from 20.1% the previous year. 

“If not for the e-wallets, the increase would have been much, much smaller,” Medalla said.

The BSP aims to have digital payments make up 50% of all transaction volume and value by year-end, according to a recent report.

Looking ahead, the BSP envisions a cashless society for the country by 2025. Prior to this, the central bank implemented its Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap which aims to achieve the goal of digitizing at least 50% of all retail payments and to ensure that a minimum of 70% of Filipino adults are included in the formal financial system.

Digital Payments Initiatives of the BSP

In 2021, the central bank established the Payments and Currency Management Sector (PCMS) to manage the interplay between fiat and digital money.

In April 2022, the BSP first announced its plan to pursue the pilot project of a wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) to promote the stability of the country’s payment system. As of January this year, BSP Currency Policy and Integrity Department Director Eloisa Glindro confirmed that the pilot implementation of Project CBDCPh will run until 2024.

Last September, the central bank and its policy-making body Monetary Board (MB) approved the Test and Learn Framework, also known as the Regulatory Sandbox, that will allow the central bank-regulated institutions to test and offer some innovative products in a controlled environment that may eventually be useful for the domestic financial system.

In November, the BSP collaborated with the Philippine Payments Management Inc. (PPMI) to launch the Bills Pay PH initiative. The project allows users to conveniently transact and pay their bills with about 50 billers.

During the Christmas season, the central bank encouraged Filipinos to give digital cash gifts through interbank fund transfers, electronic money issuers, and QRPh.

Recently, Medalla recommended eliminating transaction fees on small-value fund transfers to encourage cashless or digital payments among Filipinos.

Digital Banks in PH

One of the drivers of cashless payments in the country is the emergence of digital banks. As per the BSP, these banks are financial entities offering banking services exclusively through online platforms without physical branches. 

By August 2022, all companies that applied for digital banking licenses had become operational after receiving certificates of authority (COA) from the central bank. Currently, there are six licensed digital banks in the Philippines, including Overseas Filipino Bank, Tonik Bank, UNObank, GoTyme, UnionDigital, and Maya Bank. The application process for new digital banks is closed until December 2024.

Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs)

Another initiative of the central bank is issuing Virtual Assets Service Provider (VASP) licenses to entities facilitating the conversion, transfer, and storage of virtual assets into fiat currencies and transactions between entities. 

Currently, there are 19 holders of this license including  ABA Global, Appsolutely, Atomtrans Tech, Betur (Coins.ph), Bexpress Inc, BloomSolutions, Coinville, Etranss, Frenetic, i-Remit, Moneybees, PayMaya Philippines (Maya), PHILBIT, PDAX, Rebittance, TopJuan Technologies, WIBS PHP, XenRemit and Zybi Tech (Juan Exchange).

Since September 2022, the central bank has stopped approving and accepting VASP applications.

This article is published on BitPinas: BSP: E-Wallets now Contribute 40% in Retail Transactions

Disclaimer: BitPinas articles and its external content are not financial advice. The team serves to deliver independent, unbiased news to provide information for Philippine-crypto and beyond.