THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) will continue its drive to push for financial inclusion in 2020, according to BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno.

Moreover, Mr. Diokno said the central bank, together with its counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is also pushing to achieve better inter-region standardization through QR codes.

When asked by a member of the Rotary Club of Manila on Thursday about whether he was happy with the state of financial inclusion in the country, Mr. Diokno said: “Am I happy? Of course not.”

World Bank data published in 2018 showed only 34.5% of Filipinos aged 15 years old and above own a formal bank account.

“So we are looking at the numbers and what we mean by financial inclusion. Is it individuals or is it households. But at the same time, we have our own programs,” Mr. Diokno said.

The governor said the BSP has forged ties with different government agencies such as the Department of Education and the Civil Service Commission, among others, to tackle the pain points of financial inclusion. But most of all, Mr. Diokno is positive that the National ID system will boost the government’s effort to bring banking services to more people.

Among the hurdles in opening a bank account aside from the maintaining balance is the need to have at least government-issued ID as part of the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) scheme. Such IDs also need to be paid for. This time, the lone national ID, which can be accessed for free, initially, by the public, will suffice instead of two government IDs.

In October, the BSP teamed up with the Philippine Statistics Authority as the former agreed to subsidize the production of P116-million blank cards for the ID issuance until 2022.

Aside from the national ID, Mr. Diokno is also looking to expand digital payments to make the country a “cash-lite” society.

“We’re (ASEAN central bankers) going to develop a system that is interoperable between the ASEAN region. And so in fact, QR (quick response) codes will eventually be applicable to all countries,” he said.

Mr. Diokno said this will be beneficial to “about 620 million people” in the region, of which more than 100 million are Filipinos.

The central bank has given financial players up until June 2020 to utilize a uniform QR code format for e-payments.

The BSP wants to have 20% of total transaction volumes done digitally by 2020. They also target to have 30% of the total value of payments done electrically to prove the credibility of this method and establish users’ trust in these digital platforms. — L.W.T. Noble