More Filipinos used online payment platforms amid COVID-19 pandemic -- BSP

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 4) — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said more Filipinos preferred the use of financial technology when making payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Laura Ignacio, director of center for monetary and financial policy of the BSP, said in a statement on Wednesday that there was a “growing preference for digital transactions” among Filipinos since these were deemed safer and more convenient especially with quarantine restrictions in place since March.

"The increase in digitization and the public’s acceptance and greater usage of these electronic platforms also promote financial inclusion, which is a major advocacy of the BSP," she added.

She noted that there was a significant increase in digital transactions during the first and second quarters that may be associated to the distribution of cash assistance by the Department of Social Welfare and Development to low-income households and the Social Security System to small businesses affected by the pandemic.

At the same time, there was an observed 30% decline in withdrawals made through automated teller machines, while volume of check payments fell 70% in the first 45 days of the quarantine.

Ignacio also noted that there was a surge in the volume of EGov Pay transactions, a platform that digitized government collections and disbursements.

However, she also warned the public of potential risks that may arise with the increased reliance on online transactions like fraud, cyberattacks, as well as the use of funds to money laundering and financing terrorism.

Ignacio also said that the lack of financial infrastructure, especially in rural areas, may affect public’s trust to such payment facilities.

To address this, she said the BSP has placed measures to manage these risks through the three-fold approach, namely “risk-based, proportionate, and fair regulation; active multi-stakeholder collaboration among the industry, users, and consumers; and consumer protection through communication campaigns.”