By Melissa Luz T. Lopez
Senior Reporter

THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) is targeting to roll out a clearing house for real-time payments this month, forming part of an industry-wide push towards electronic transactions.
BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier said work on Instapay — a new clearing house that will process electronic fund transfers and payments — is in the final stages, with industry players expected to sign cooperation deals within April.
“The Instapay platform is scheduled to be rolled out mid of April 2018 which is within the target timeline,” Ms. Fonacier said in an e-mail interview. “So far, there are no problems encountered that might cause delays in implementation.”
According to the central bank’s plans, Instapay will clear electronic fund transfers (EFT) across banks and e-wallets in real time, focusing on low-value transactions worth below P50,000.
This would be the second clearing house after the Philippine EFT System and Operations Network (PESONet) rolled out in November.
Instapay is expected to be more high-impact in terms of processing money transfers, as it is expected to give a substantial boost for e-commerce. Clearing and settlement is expected to come in real-time, against the batch processing employed under PESONet.
Currently, banks signed up under PESONet carry out one batch run daily, which allows them to credit fund transfers by the end of the banking day to the intended recipient.
BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. previously said the central bank has been embracing digital platforms for a more efficient financial system, citing the need for industry players to embrace cooperation while remaining competitive.
Last week, the BSP required all banks and financial firms to offer electronic payment channels for all clients which will be ready to process fund transfers within a matter of seconds, as part of the National Retail Payment System (NRPS) project spearheaded by the regulator.
The central bank targets to shift cash-heavy transactions to digital avenues via the NRPS, which they expect to help broaden access to financial services and spur increased economic activity.
The BSP targets to lift the share of digital payments to 20% of total transactions by 2020, coming from a measly 1% recorded in 2013. Offering e-payments is seen as the fastest way towards wider financial inclusion, with more Filipinos owning smartphones than those with access to bank branches nationwide.
Electronic money transactions in the Philippines totalled P1.1 trillion last year, marking an all-time high as more financial firms offered the digital services to consumers.
There were 11.4 million e-money accounts as of end-2017 — a rapid increase compared to 45.3 million Filipinos with bank deposit accounts, according to latest available central bank data.