By Melissa Luz T. Lopez,
Senior Reporter

MORE FILIPINOS are tapping formal channels to transact money under the central bank’s payments and settlements system, with total value breaching P700 trillion over the past year alone, its chief said.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said they have observed a spike in volumes that go through the Philippine Payments and Settlements System (PhilPaSS), showing signs of greater reliance on the financial platform.

The BSP chief said total transactions from July 2016 to June 2017 alone surged to over three million, with total value reaching P757.2 trillion over that year.

PhilPaSS is the central bank’s real-time gross settlement system. It allows high-value payments between banks through the deposit accounts they maintain with the central bank. It is one of six major payment, clearing and settlement systems in the country which is managed by the BSP.

Remittances sent by overseas Filipino workers accounted for over a third of total volumes settled under PhilPASS during the second quarter, latest central bank data showed, followed by interbank transactions.

Between April-June this year, amounts that went through PhilPaSS totalled P65.894 trillion.

Among the other payments and fund transfer schemes processed under PhilPaSS include check clearing, customer payment instructions, the purchase and sale of government securities, revenue collections for the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs, and the withdrawal of excess reserves with the BSP.

All banks and quasi-banks use the PhilPaSS as its main clearing platform since 2002, where they transact with fellow lenders, government offices, and the central bank.

“The continued increase of the volume and value of PhilPaSS transactions reflects the public’s faith and confidence in the country’s payments and settlements system and the underlying health of the economy,” Mr. Espenilla said in a speech on Friday.

The central bank has been asking Congress to enact a payment systems act to formalize the BSP’s authority to oversee all settlement platforms operating in the Philippines.

The fresh request for the measure comes amid plans to set up two new clearing houses for digital transactions, as part of an industry-wide shift to online financial services.