By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Senior Reporter
THE CENTRAL BANK is looking to sanction lenders that will fail to join the industry’s digital clearing houses by end-November, possibly via a ban on offering new products.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier said the regulator is currently studying the set of sanctions they will impose on any banks that will not sign up for the industry’s two automated clearing houses (ACHs) for digital payments, which is mandatory by Nov. 30.
Launched in April, InstaPay is a digital clearing house which processes real-time transfers worth P50,000 or lower across accounts or e-wallets from different banks or service providers. Money is sent and credited to a destination account in a matter of seconds or minutes.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Electronic Fund Transfer System and Operations Network (PESONet) — which compiles all interbank fund transfer instructions, runs a batch process, and credits the amount to the receiver by the end of the banking day — has been seeing steady usage since its launch in November last year.
The BSP has required all banks and other financial firms offering electronic and mobile banking services to get onboard the two ACHs which process online payments.
The central bank is eyeing to raise the share of e-payments to 20% of all transactions in the Philippines by 2020, coming from a measly 1% share back in 2013.
Already, central bank officials have noted rapid growth in the use of online payments, with InstaPay volumes seeing “exponential” increase over the past few months.
Although the penalties are yet to be finalized, Ms. Fonacier said “there will definitely be” sanctions imposed on banks unable to join the PESONet and InstaPay platforms by month’s end.
“It’s not monetary, it’s probably more of constricting some activities — kapag wala kang ganun (if you don’t have that), you can’t afford to provide other products or even some services,” the BSP official said.
This, in turn, is expected to force lenders to already get aboard the ACHs as being prohibited to offer new products would hurt their businesses more and “restrict growth.” However, Ms. Fonacier noted this track is not yet definite.
Weeks ahead of the deadline, Ms. Fonacier noted that most banks are ramping up their efforts to go digital, largely for them to keep up with competition.
Under the National Retail Payment System framework, the BSP targets to shift cash-heavy transactions to digital avenues, which is expected to broaden access to financial services and spur increased economic activity.
There are 46 lenders using PESONet as of end-September, according to BSP data.
InstaPay participants are fewer with only 18 firms able to send and receive across accounts as of that month, while 15 banks and e-money issuers are capable of receiving funds only.