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TIME TO INSTITUTIONALIZE DIGITAL PAYMENTS – ANGARA

Both the government and the private sector welcome the promotion of digital payments as the way forward in providing Filipinos with a fast, safe and efficient way of making transactions in the country.

As the author of Senate Bill 1764 or the Use of Digital Payments Act, Senator Sonny Angara said there was widespread support for the adoption of digital payments for government and private transactions, “for as long as there are adequate safeguards in place to protect our people”.

“Instituting digital payments, particularly in all government agencies, offices and local government units, is consistent with the thrust to promote ease of doing business. This will also go a long way in ensuring the efficient delivery of services to the people,” Angara explained.

“We want to provide Filipinos the option of doing the same for their transactions with the government so that physically going to and lining up at city hall or other offices will no longer be necessary.”

“Consumers have experienced the convenience of making digital payments—be it for buying goods, the payment of services or their monthly bills. Now we want to provide Filipinos the option of doing the same for their transactions with the government so that physically going to and lining up at city hall or other offices will no longer be necessary,” the veteran legislator added.

During the first hearing on the bill by the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies Sub-Committee on SBN 1764, the government and private sector stakeholders provided their inputs on the bill, which the seasoned lawmaker said will be taken into consideration in the crafting of the committee report.

The National Economic and Development Authority noted that the bill is in line with the strategies adopted in the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap 2023.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the adoption of digital payments is exceedingly significant in line with the need for contact-less transactions through financial technologies in transitioning to the new normal.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the objective of the bill is aligned with the BSP’s roadmap converting at least 50 percent of volume of retail payments into digital form and having at least 70 percent of Filipino adults onboarded to the formal financial system by 2023.

The BSP believes the bill can contribute to the improvement of the country’s status in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report by lowering transaction costs and reducing the time needed to transact with the government.

Commission on Audit Chairman Michael Aguinaldo said the use of various ICT platforms for digital payments in government operations will increase efficiency and decrease the room for corrupt practices through personal interactions with public officials.

Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay said the bill will make it easier for taxpayers to settle their taxes and fees.

In its position paper, the Joint Foreign Chambers and Philippine Business Groups aired

its support to the measure, saying the shift to digital and cashless payments will enable the government to save some $100 million or P5 billion annually.

They said that digital payments not only lower transaction costs, but are environment friendly and reduces resistance and barriers to more Filipinos owning financial transaction accounts.

Coins.ph/DC Pay CEO Nuaman Mustafa said he expects the measure to fast track the development of the digital payments industry in the country and boost the reputation of electronic money issuers as a safe and convenient platform for all consumers.

For CIO Foundation Forum chairman George Kintanar, the bill is considerably timely under the new normal, promotes fast and more orderly transactions and ensures greater transparency and security in government financial transactions.

“The bill will also facilitate the transfer of government payments such as the cash aid provided to targeted recipients during the enhanced community quarantine.”

SB 1764 mandates the utilization of digital payment in the collection of taxes, fees, tolls, imposes and other revenues and in the payment of goods, services and other disbursements.

The senator said the bill will also facilitate the transfer of government payments such as the cash aid provided to targeted recipients during the enhanced community quarantine by directly transferring the money into their bank or digital accounts.

The House of Representatives has already approved its own version of the measure in House Bill 8992 filed by Bataan Rep. Joet Garcia.

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