THE European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine (ECCP) said it intends to support the government’s attempts to bring financial services to all by setting up a Special Committee on Open Finance and Financial Inclusion (SCOFFI).

“The role of financial inclusion in developing the economy should not be underestimated. In fact, it should be a priority. After all, including critical segments into the country’s financial systems is crucial to helping the economy recover from the ill effects of the pandemic. Hence, we at the ECCP-SCOFFI vow to support the incoming administration in its initiatives towards financial inclusion and open finance,” ECCP-SCOFFI Chair John Januszczak said.

The goals of open finance are to lower transaction costs by promoting consent-driven data portability, interoperability, and collaboration among financial institutions and third-party providers.

Under this approach, industry participants “are able to create customer-centric products and provide better access to critical financial services such as savings, insurance, and credit.”

Along with UBx Philippines Corp., the fintech arm of UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc., SCOFFI has been helping the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) prepare standards and procedures for implementing open finance.

“This wholly-inclusive ecosystem seeks to close the gap when it comes to access to formal financial institutions,” UnionBank said in a statement on Tuesday.

The key targets of the initiative include micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

“Businesses under this umbrella — sari-sari stores, carinderia, and fish stalls — rely on small loans to keep their businesses afloat. Lack of financing and capital is the main barrier in spurring growth in the sector. With financial inclusivity, credit access from legitimate lenders will be faster,” UnionBank said.

Farmers are also expected to benefit from financial inclusion as they gear up for expanding production.

“Financial inclusion requires deliberate and coordinated action among all of the stakeholders, and the government plays a major role in pushing for this agenda. I truly hope that our new leaders will be keen on advocating for the vulnerable sectors to be included in our financial systems,” according to Mr. Januszczak, who also serves as President and CEO of UBX. — Keisha B. Ta-asan