THE CENTRAL BANK is urging consumers to shift to e-payments amid the current enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to prevent further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In a statement, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin E. Diokno encourage the “use of e-payment services through electronic fund transfer schemes PESONet and InstaPay.”

“Fees for these services have been waived by authorized financial institutions during the ECQ period,” Mr. Diokno said.

According to the BSP, InstaPay and PESONet may be used for person-to-government transactions such as tax payments.

Likewise, government-to-person transactions such as the distribution of monetary benefits under the Social Amelioration Program of the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act can also be coursed through these payment channels.

InstaPay allows for real-time fund transfers of amounts up to P50,000 and is already offered by 45 financial institutions.

Meanwhile, PESONet is meant for high value transactions which can be credited by the end of the banking day, provided that the money was transferred within the cut-off time of financial institutions. The service is authorized to be carried out by 56 institutions.

Mr. Diokno said consumers should exercise due diligence and utmost vigilance when making e-payments and entering into other online transactions in view of potential risks, such as phishing, spoofing, fraud and scams.

“Usage of e-payments reduces people’s need for mobility, helps prevent health risks of physical contact during over-the-counter transactions, partially addresses difficulties of providing cash supply to ATMs (automated teller machines) and bank branches, and supports the general objectives of the ongoing ECQ,” the BSP said.

During the lockdown, banks have seen a surge in online transactions including opening of accounts as well as fund transfers.

The volume of online payment transactions in the country grew to 10% of total transactions in 2018 from a mere 1% in 2013, according to a study by Better-than-Cash Alliance. Meanwhile, the value of e-payments rose to comprise 20% of the total in 2018 from the 8% seen in 2013.

The central bank wants 20% of transaction volumes and 30% of transaction value done digitally by this year’s close. — LWTN