The Philippines is well on its way to become a cash-lite economy with the implementation of the QR Ph Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payment system, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The QR Ph P2M, which was launched on Tuesday, simplifies digital payments made by customers to merchants by allowing customers to transact with a broader range of businesses, including purchases of goods and services in department stores, pharmacies, supermarkets, hardware stores, and restaurants, the central bank noted.

"With today's event, are well on our way to becoming a cash-lite society," BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said. "Digitalizing merchant payments through QR Ph P2M is expected to have a far-reaching positive impact as it empowers small economic actors like micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to realize greater opportunities for growth."

P2M spans a broad consumer base, including individuals as well as MSMEs, which account for over 98 percent of all registered enterprises in the country, the Bangko Sentral mentioned.

"Because of its low cost and ease of use, QR Ph P2M can enable small unbanked vendors, such as sari-sari store owners and tricycle drivers, to participate in the digital payments ecosystem and allow them to build financial profiles which may eventually facilitate their access to other financial products and services that can help them grow and enhance the resiliency of their businesses," Diokno added.

More banks and non-bank electronic-money issuers have joined entities that have been onboard since the facility's pilot debut on April 30 this year, the central bank pointed out.

The full launch means customers who have accounts with AllBank, Asia United Bank (AUB), Cebuana Lhuillier Rural Bank, China Banking Corp., Land Bank of the Philippines, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), Starpay, Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank), and USSC Money Services Inc. (UMSI) can now pay using QR Ph to more than 20,000 participating merchants in over 30,000 locations and whose accounts are with AllBank, AUB, BDO, Cebuana Lhuillier Rural Bank, Metrobank, PayMaya, RCBC, Starpay, Unionbank, and UMSI.

Consumers and merchants do not need to have accounts with the same bank or e-money provider to benefit from QR Ph P2M's interoperability feature, the BSP stressed.

"We now have more tools to onboard merchants, especially MSMEs, or even informal merchants, and make it easier for them to accept digital payments, thereby widening the range of consumers and businesses who can have access to and enjoy the convenience of using digital payments," BSP Deputy Governor Mamerto Tangonan, for his part, underscored.

Later, the Bangko Sentral said that QR Ph P2M could also be used to pay bills. Customers must download the mobile application offered by their bank or non-bank e-money issuers where the service will be given to use QR Ph P2M.