Home Banking & Finance RCBC sees rollout of digital currency ePiso by next year
RCBC sees rollout of digital currency ePiso by next year
By Karl Angelo N. Vidal, Reporter
RIZAL COMMERCIAL Banking Corp. (RCBC) expects its digital currency to be fully rolled out next year, with the lender still testing the network across various communities.
In a recent interview, RCBC Group Head of Digital Banking Margarita B. Lopez said the Yuchengco-led bank is still pilot-testing its ePiso digital currency as it continues to study the value proposition of the network, on-boarding various partners such as merchants and suppliers.
“I expect the first six months [of the program] would be an intensive checking whether the business that we think is the path to building an ecosystem will actually work,” Ms. Lopez told BusinessWorld. “If it does, then that’s what we’ll replicate. That’s continuous learning for us.”
She added that the full deployment of ePiso should commence by next year.
“By next year, dapat full implementation na tayo (it should be in full implementation).”
Dubbed as the first of its kind in the Philippines, ePiso was first tested in May as a digital currency stored in a mobile wallet.
Currently, the ePiso is being tested in a community in Muntinlupa as well as in Bulacan and Bukidnon.
During the first few months of the pilot test, Ms. Lopez said the bank saw a 330% growth in terms of mobile application downloads and a 2000% increase in volume transactions.
“The [numbers are] very encouraging… There’s really a way for us to help them secure their hard-earned money,” she said.
Ms. Lopez added that RCBC is looking at partnering with more businesses, which include suppliers, buyers, and merchants to grow the ecosystem.
“Right now, we’ve on-boarded suppliers for farmers. We’ve also on-boarded a fast-moving goods company to [supply] the daily needs of ePiso users.”
Aside from the pilot areas, RCBC plans to test the digital currency ecosystem in certain areas in Mindanao, Visayas, and Palawan, depending on vicinities being serviced by its partners.
It is also looking at adding more use cases for the digital currency such as RCBC’s banking products and services, on top of fund transfers, merchants, as well as utility bills payments already being tested.
“Hopefully at some point, we’ll be working with different partners — either other banks or [financial technology] companies that will be able to offer investments, savings and so forth,” Ms. Lopez said. “Whatever that would benefit the consumers.”
For now, she noted that RCBC is closely working with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) through a sandbox model.
“Technically, the central bank should be the one to issue [digital currencies]. Right now, we’re doing the issuance and conversion for them, but at some point, they will issue that.”
The central bank launched the National Retail Payment System framework in 2015 with the objective of promoting a “cash-lite” economy wherein financial transactions will veer away from cash and check and toward electronic fund transfers and digital wallets.
The BSP targets to raise the share of digital payments to 20% of the total transactions by 2020 from a measly one percent in 2013.
RCBC posted a P2.2-billion net income in the first half of the year, 6.4% lower than the P2.35 billion tallied a year ago due to lower trading gains.
Shares in RCBC closed at P28.25 apiece on Wednesday, up 25 centavos or 0.89%.