• National payment system seen in place in 3-5 years

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    CONSUMERS and industry stakeholders may have to wait for three to five more years before the proposed national retail payment system (NRPS) becomes a reality, a top central bank official said.

    “The target [for NRPS implementation]that the industry is talking about is three to five years,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. told reporters on the sidelines of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Sustainability Summit on Thursday.

    He said this is because laying down the critical foundation will already require about two years.

    Espenilla noted that one of the critical foundations that financial institutions are working on right now is the creation of an interoperable ecosystem under the NRPS.

    “The idea is to be able to create an interoperable environment for the various kinds of e-payments systems—that means cards, mobile, and point of sale devices—so that we’ll be able to transact down the road all the way to merchant establishments and even stores.
    We’ll be able to move value easily and electronically throughout the ecosystem,” he explained.

    Besides the interoperability of the system, Espenilla said the players are also working on the constitution of the NRPS.

    “Basically, it’s a partnership of many actors: banks, payment providers,
    telecommunications companies. So you need to have a good constitution so people will properly coordinate and compete in a healthy way,” he said.

    Late last week, the central bank official said that the NPRS governance framework, which is envisioned to be self-governed by the players themselves and not by government, was already being drafted.

    The scheme would allow players to introduce innovations meant to further promote financial inclusion in the country, he said.

    Espenilla said the governance framework will define clearly the areas where the players should cooperate as well as the areas where they can compete “because they are cooperators as well as competitors.”

    Under the NRPS, an initiative of the central bank, Filipinos will have easy access to financial services such as to make payments and receive or transfer funds to other accounts anytime anywhere at a reasonable price from any digital device.

    The system includes not only the use of automated teller machine cards, but also checks, mobile wallets and the like that could reduce the dominance of payment transactions done through cash.

    At present, the BSP said the Philippines averages 2.5 billion payments per month, which correspond to a value of over P3.2 trillion, and 99 percent of these payments are cash-based.

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