Rise in e-money use boosts financial-account ownership

DUE to reliance on digital banking during the height of the pandemic, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the number of Filipinos that own a financial-transaction account hit a record high in 2021.

The Central Bank reported on Monday that more than half of the country’s adult population now owns a financial account.

In particular, account ownership surged to 56 percent in 2021, up from 29 percent in 2019.

“This increase is the highest two-year growth since the [Financial Inclusion] survey (FIS) began in 2015. The expansion was spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, accelerating the use of digital payments,” the BSP said in a statement.

Broken down, the rise of account ownership was attributed to the uptake of e-money accounts, which climbed to 36 percent in 2021 from 8 percent in 2019.

This became the most common type of account among adults in the middle class and low-income population, as well as with those aged 15 years old to 49 years old.

The share of adults with a bank account also rose, almost doubling to 23 percent in 2021 from 12 percent in 2019. Banks remained the preferred formal institution for saving money by a third of those with savings, followed by co-operatives and microfinance institutions.

Also according to the FIS, six out of 10 Filipinos altered their financial behavior during the pandemic.

In particular, 37 percent of Filipinos started saving more for emergencies, 17 percent began or increased their usage of online banking and digital payment, and 15 percent borrowed more.

The FIS also showed that of those with mobile phones and internet access in 2021, 60 percent performed financial transactions online, such as fund transfers and payments, which is a considerable jump from 17 percent in 2019.

“Amid the latest figures, the BSP will continue to broaden its efforts to foster the wider adoption of digital technology, which has effectively enabled the onboarding of more Filipinos into the formal financial system,” BSP Governor Felipe M. Medalla said.


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