Diokno eyes e-payment for ‘sari-sari’ stores, fares

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BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said he envisions a Philippines where electronic payment is used, even in sari-sari stores and for jeepney fares.

Diokno, however, said this reality could only come to fruition with the ubiquity of quick response (QR) codes.

In a recent speaking engagement, the BSP governor said the use of QR codes, first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan, will likely enable the propagation of more electronic transactions in the local culture.

“Our vision is to have more market vendors, jeepney and tricycle drivers accepting digital payments through QR code linked to transaction accounts,” Diokno said.

A QR code is an image consisting of black and white squares which could store information about a certain product, service or transaction. It works similar to a traditional barcode, except that it can be scanned or read via the camera on a smartphone.

A transaction account, meanwhile, is attributed by Diokno to easy, affordable and convenient way to pay bills, send money to family wherever they are, pay government fees and make online purchases.

“We do not have to take time off our weekends and free time just to fall in line to do these transactions,” the BSP chief said. “All we have to do is use our mobile phones.”

Among the benefits of using QR code in basic day-to-day transactions, according to Diokno, is that “people do not have to always bring cash with us when we go to work or the market—thereby reducing risk of theft.”

“For market vendors and drivers, that means they do not have to handle cash, which make them less vulnerable to counterfeits aside from theft,” the governor added.

“The benefit of using transaction accounts extends to the employers. When employers pay salaries directly to the account of their workers through PESONet, it can potentially lower administrative and overhead costs, and reduce risks associated with cash distributions during paydays,” Diokno said.

“As people and businesses use digital payments, they are able to build a rich digital footprint that can be used by banks, fintechs and other lenders in evaluating and granting credit. This means people can have better and wider financing options,” the governor further said.

In October this year, the BSP adopted a policy requiring the adoption of a National QR Code Standard (NQRCS) for payments.

The newly approved policy prescribing a NQRCS provides that the country’s payment system management body, the Philippine Payments Management Inc., determine such standard in coordination with key stakeholders, particularly payment service providers, both banks and nonbanks. The BSP said the QR technology has emerged the most convenient and cost efficient means of moving funds from one account to another and the use of interoperable QR codes has been gaining traction as an alternative to the traditional debit and credit cards.

“A QR code contains most, if not all, of the critical information, such as account name and account number, which are required to be specified in a payment instruction. As such, the use of this code minimizes encoding errors,” the BSP said. “Moreover, it is faster and easier to just scan the code than to dip or swipe a card and sign a charge slip.” 

Image credits: Bernard Testa

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