THE PESONET Steering Committee is looking at ways to enhance its electronic fund transfer (ETF) service scheme in order to ease digital transactions.

PESONet Steering Committee Head John Cary L. Ong said they are looking to enable PESONet to do multiple settlements in a day.

Moreover, they also want to lessen check usage to support the push for more digital payments in the country.

“Maybe in the beginning, we’ll start off with two or three times a day. But it’s not inconceivable that we would have settlements every hour,” he said in an interview with BusinessWorld in December.

The PESONet is an EFT service under the central bank’s National Retail Payment System (NRPS) initiative. It enables a batch of fund transfers to be credited to the receiver by the end of the banking date.

Its retail counterpart, InstaPay, allows real-time fund transfers for amounts less than P50,000.

“We’re also exploring ways on how we (PESONet) can be available 24/7, on holidays, weekends etc.,” Mr. Ong added.

According to the latest study by Better than Cash Alliance, digital payments in the country jumped to comprise 10% of all transactions in 2018, from just making up 1% of the total in 2013.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has been banking on initiatives such as the NRPS to further push digital payments in the country and to reach their goal of having 20% of total transaction volumes done electronically. They also want 30% of the total value of payments to be done electronically to prove the credibility of this method and establish users’ trust in these digital platforms.

“I’m happy to see 10% as of 2018. And InstaPay went full blast more of this year…so I would expect that the actual number now could be much higher,” Mr. Ong said.

He, however, noted the industry has experienced some pain points in pushing electronic payments for business-to-business (B2B) transactions.

“We monitor electronic versus checks. [Only] around 7.5% is electronic so 92.5% are still in checks. There are other reasons for it — a lot of it tax-related, etc.,” he said, noting that they have been trying to address this through initiatives like pushing for e-invoicing.

Mr. Ong, who is also the executive vice-president and center head of Transaction Banking Center at UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc., said the Aboitiz-led bank is the “market leader in terms of the PESONet.”

“Our volume of consumptions in 2018 to this year [2019], we grew four times,” he said, noting that they saw two million PESONet transactions as of December 2019 from just 500,000 transactions in the same period in 2018.

As of November, 51 banks have joined PESONet, according to Vicente T. de Villa III, BSP managing director for the Financial Technology sub-sector. — Luz Wendy T. Noble