THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects the increasing adoption of the national Quick Response (QR) Code Standard or QR Ph Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payment facility to boost consumers’ access to safe and efficient digital transactions.

Latest data from the BSP showed that the QR Ph P2M facility can now be used in 473,000 merchant locations across the country as of April. This is almost double the 243,000 merchant locations in the previous month. 

“The use of QR Ph P2M is convenient and cost-effective since it does not require expensive point of sale or data capture terminals to facilitate digital payments for individuals and businesses,” BSP Deputy Governor Mamerto E. Tangonan said in a statement.

QR Ph, which runs through the InstaPay rail, has helped contribute to the country’s progress towards reaching the BSP’s financial inclusion goals.

In 2019, the central bank initially launched QR Ph for person-to-person or P2P payments, catering primarily to payments and remittances in the informal sector.

The P2M use case for QR Ph was launched in October 2021, enabling interoperable digital payments between customers and merchants even if they maintain accounts with different financial service providers. The BSP said in the future, this can also be used for paying bills.

Under the BSP Circular No. 1055, the central bank required all participating payment service providers to adopt QR Ph for interoperability.

As of April, there were 28 and 17 financial institutions participating in the QR Ph P2P and P2M facilities, respectively.

“The BSP shall continue to engage the payments industry and relevant stakeholders to ensure the quality and responsiveness of digital payment services in the new normal. We ultimately want Filipinos to reap the benefits of a stronger and more inclusive Philippine economy,” Mr. Tangonan said.

The BSP targets to have 50% of the volume and value of retail transactions in the country done online by 2023. It also wants 70% of Filipino adults to have accounts with financial institutions by the same year.

The share of digital payments in the total volume of retail transactions in the country rose to 30.3% in 2021 from 20.1% a year earlier, according to latest data from the BSP.

Meanwhile, the value of payments done online represented 44.1% of total retail transactions last year, higher than the 26.8% share in 2020.

Merchant payments, peer-to-peer remittances and business transactions of salaries and wages to employees, all of which are high frequency and low value, were the key contributors to the growth in electronic transactions. — K.B. Ta-asan