ONLINE TRANSACTIONS made through PESONet and InstaPay rose as of end-May amid the increased convenience of cashless payments, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data showed.

The combined value of transactions coursed via the BSP’s automated clearing houses InstaPay and PESONet were at P4.88 trillion from January to May, 31.5% higher than the P3.71 trillion in the comparable year-ago period.

In terms of volume, transactions done through the clearing houses climbed by 32.1% to 321 million in the same period from 243 million a year prior.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said more consumers are shifting to online transactions amid the convenience of going cashless.

He said digital payments are a better alternative to over-the-counter transactions, checks, and cash that come with higher costs and risks.

Increased economic activity also continued to support the growth in online transactions, he added.

In a radio interview, BSP Deputy Governor Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said consumers find digital payments more convenient for various reasons.

“You don’t need to withdraw money from a bank. You don’t even need to go to a bank. You don’t need to bring cash to pay. For market vendors, they don’t need to give you change when you pay them,” she said in Filipino.

Broken down, the value of transactions done via PESONet grew by 26.3% to P3.02 trillion in the first five months of 2023 from P2.39 trillion a year prior.

The volume of transactions coursed through the payment gateway stood at 37.4 million in the January-to-May period, increasing by 11.6% from 33.5 million a year ago.

Meanwhile, the value of transactions done through InstaPay soared by 40.9% year on year to P1.86 trillion in the first five months from P1.32 trillion in the same period in 2022.

The volume of InstaPay transactions likewise grew by 35.8% to 284 million from 209 million last year.

PESONet and InstaPay are digital payment systems under the National Retail Payment System launched in 2017-2018.

PESONet is an electronic fund transfer service operated by the Philippine Clearing House Corp. It is a viable alternative for checks and recurring payments.

Meanwhile, InstaPay is a real-time, low-value payment substitute for cash transactions up to P50,000. The payment system is handled by BancNet, Inc.

The growth in PESONet and InstaPay transactions is expected to help the BSP achieve its twin goals to have 50% of retail payments done digitally and 70% of adult Filipinos become part of the formal financial system by 2023. 

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 central bank.

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