The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas recently revealed that the 2020-2023 digital payments transformation roadmap target would likely be met “sooner rather than later” as the number of Filipinos with access to banks and electronic money channels jumped to 41 million as of the third quarter of last year.
Citing BSP estimates, central bank governor Benjamin Diokno said that from about 21 million “banked” adults in 2019, another 20 million were “onboarded” to the formal financial system between 2020 and the third quarter of 2021.
The BSP chief said the number of Filipinos with transaction accounts grew “sharply” with 3.6 million new basic deposit accounts opened between end-2019 and October 2021. E-money accounts also rose by 16.8 million during the same period. Another 7 million Filipinos also opened accounts with the state-run Land Bank of the Philippines while registering for their national ID.
This rise in financial inclusivity bodes well for the recently launched 2022-2028 national strategy for financial inclusion that Diokno said is aimed at reducing disparities in financial inclusion; improving financial health and resilience, making consumers more financially capable and empowered; and increasing access to finance for small businesses, startups and the agriculture sector.
According to the BSP, these goals will be achieved by promoting inclusive digital finance, strengthening financial education and consumer protection, enhancing access to risk protection and social safety nets, as well as enhancing the financing ecosystem for agriculture and small businesses.
As the rest of the world becomes more and more digital, financial inclusion and access to financial services are becoming increasingly important, especially in a populous but still mostly poor nation like the Philippines. The gains the BSP have been making in terms of digital payments transformation and getting Filipinos into the banking system will help millions avail of essential services as well as open doors to opportunities that can help improve lives and businesses. It is now up to us to take advantage of the improvements and opportunities that the banking and financial services sector can provide as we continue the struggle to uplift our lives as best we can.*