BSP chief sees quicker fund transfers even on weekends, holidays


MANILA, Philippines — The central bank may soon allow large scale electronic fund transactions to be settled through its clearing house even during non-banking days in an effort to make the local payments infrastructure more efficient.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said this policy will depend on enhancements currently being prepared for the PESONet framework which are aimed at making faster cash transfers among banks using this system.

“Very soon, we plan to stretch further the usefulness of PESONet by increasing the clearing frequency of its transactions,” he said at the online launch on Tuesday (Nov. 24) of ING Pay Account service.

With these improvements, Diokno said payees of PESONet fund transfers will no longer wait for the end-of-day crediting of such transfers, since crediting will be done multiple times on a banking day.

“If this PESONet enhancement works smoothly, we will allow clearing during weekends and holidays,” he said.

The central bank chief cited rapid changes in the country’s payments landscape in recent months which have accelerated since the government-imposed lockdowns to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The electronic payment frameworks used by banks — PESONet and InstaPay — “evolved from a choice into a necessity” during this period, he said.

PESONet is used for large fund transfers that are cleared and credited at the end of a banking day, while InstaPay is used for smaller retail transfers that are executed immediately.

“The quantum surge in the volume and value of PESONet and InstaPay transactions means continuous buildup of consumer trust in these payment streams,” Diokno added.

PESONet, in particular, has been instrumental in enabling individuals and businesses to settle taxes, licenses, permits, and other payments to hundreds of national agencies and local government units, through the EGov Pay. It has also been used in the distribution of social amelioration grants to millions of Filipinos during the lockdown.

Diokno said regulators have also made InstaPay more convenient for users by prescribing a national quick response (QR) code standard which is key to ensuring interoperability of QR-enabled payment services.

“I personally track the implementation of ‘QR Ph’ by the industry,” he said, noting that he was pleased to see that the system already applies to person-to-person payments where a payer scans the code generated by the payee’s bank or e-money issuer, with the fund transfer happening in seconds.

Regulators plan to extend the use of QR Ph from person-to-person (P2P) to person-to-merchant (P2M) payments. This initiative will benefit large business organizations and small entrepreneurs including variety store owners, market vendors, and other small traders.

There is also plan to establish a central bills payment facility which aims to eliminate the inefficiencies associated with the current fragmented bills payment mechanisms.

“This facility will enable billers to collect from their customers even if the payment service providers of the billers are different from those of the customers,” Diokno said.


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