THE PHILIPPINES is seeking a $300-million loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to fund financial inclusion projects, the Beijing-based bank said.

The AIIB said on its website that the loan will help the Philippines leverage its national ID system to expand financial inclusion and expand the digital payments ecosystem.

The program also aims to reduce inequalities in women’s access to finance.

The AIIB said the loan will be co-financed by the Asian Development Bank.

The Philippines is seeking to update the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion 2022-2028 with gender-focused targets, as well as the approval of the Financial Consumer Protection Act and other key legislation.

The financing will also support the Rural Bank Strengthening Program with targeted programs for female entrepreneurs.

AIIB also noted an Insurance Commission circular requiring the collection of sex-separated data to ensure effective inclusion of women in microinsurance.

The loan will also support a Department of Trade and Industry program to compile a database of women-owned and -led micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises.

The inclusion programs also support expanded financial services in Muslim Mindanao through the creation of a Shari’ah Supervisory Board. The loan will also fund capacity-development activities for Islamic banking.

The loan supplements a program which began in October 2018 to scale up the use of digital financial services, and another in August 2020 which sought to implement a national identity system and strengthen consumer protection and literacy. — Aaron Michael C. Sy