THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) will continue to waive fees for transactions made through the Philippine Payment and Settlement System (PhilPaSS) Plus until March 31 to keep online transactions affordable for consumers.

Memorandum No. M-2021-073 signed by BSP Payments and Currency Management Sector-in-Charge Edna C. Villa on Dec. 30, 2021 directed the extension of the relief measure to the last business day of March.

“The BSP enjoins the participants in the PESO real-time gross settlement payment system to extend the benefits of this relief measure to the financial consumers by ensuring that the fees for electronic payment services, such as InstaPay, PESONet, and QR Ph, are reasonable,” Ms. Villa said.

PESONet is the electronic fund transfer scheme under the National Retail Payment System for transactions beyond P50,000 that are credited to the recipient by the end of a banking day, making it suitable for high-value business transactions. Its retail counterpart InstaPay allows for real-time fund transfers for amounts up to P50,000.

Based on BSP data as of Nov. 30, 2021, there were 60 financial institutions that are direct participants of InstaPay, while 92 are onboard PESONet.

Meanwhile, QR Ph is the national QR code standard which allows for fund transfers among banks and e-wallets. As of Nov. 30, there are 27 financial institutions that allow for person-to-person transfers, while 14 are participants of the person-to-merchant transactions use case.

Last week, the BSP ordered a moratorium on increases in InstaPay and PESONet fees for person-to-person fund transfers, saying this will help to quicken the country’s transition into a cash-lite economy.

The central bank first waived transactions for PhilPaSS transactions in April 2020 during the initial coronavirus disease 2019 lockdown, and this was extended for the whole of 2020. The fee waiver remained in effect in 2021.

In 2020, digital payments made up 20.1% of all transactions in terms of volume, the BSP earlier said. This is an improvement from the 10% in 2018 and the mere 1% in 2013.

By next year, the central bank hopes 50% of payments will be coursed through digital channels. — L.W.T. Noble