BSP eyes full operation of national QR code standard by second half of 2021

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 21) — In line with its goal to promote digital payments inclusive for businesses and consumers alike, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas aims to widely roll out the national QR code standard in a few months.

"We have launched na [already] what is called QR Ph. That will be the standard, and that will be on stream by second half of the year," BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno told CNN Philippines' The Exchange with Rico Hizon.

The central bank launched the person-to-merchant pilot of QR Ph just this April, with consumers able to use their respective codes in buying goods from establishments such as department stores, pharmacies, and restaurants, Diokno said.

Individuals holding accounts in the following banks with InstaPay may now use QR Ph in paying for purchases in participating merchants:

- AllBank (A Thrift Bank) Inc.

- Asia United Bank

- China Banking Corporation

- Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation

- Robinsons Bank

- UnionBank

- PayMaya

"Any of the merchants who have an account with these banks and institutions can have a QR (code)," the BSP chief said.

This shift to digital payments is in line with the central bank's goal of promoting financial inclusion especially for small businesses and consumers, allowing them to perform day-to-day transactions without turning to the "usual, more formal form like for example, use of credit cards or cash," Diokno added.

The central bank governor also reiterated this targeted transition is "consistent" with their goal to propel the Philippine society towards being "cash-light" from its current "cash-heavy" state.

"So for example, you'll ride a tricycle or ride a jeepney or buy goods from the sari-sari store, you can just choose your QR code," Diokno said. "Isn't that a better way of transacting business?"

The government has encouraged the use of cashless payments and reduce physical contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while still helping small businesses and workers stay afloat amid the global health crisis.