Bangko Sentral closes application for new non-bank e-money issuers

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2021   •   405

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Thursday announced it is closing for two years the applications for new non-bank electronic money issuers (EMI).

In a statement, the BSP said the moratorium will be imposed beginning December 16.

“The Monetary Board decided to recalibrate the approach in handling applications from non-bank institutions for new EMI licenses in line with the thrust of the Bangko Sentral to promote financial stability and strengthen public confidence in the digital economy,” it said.

The central bank said the approach involves the closure of the regular application window for new EMI-Others license for non-bank financial institutions for a period of two years and the introduction of the test-and-learn pathway for innovative e-money solutions that offer strong value propositions.

“This strategic change will enable the Bangko Sentral to monitor the performance of current market players and the risks they pose to the financial industry. This will also allow us to assess their impact in relation to our financial inclusion and digital payments transformation objectives,” said BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno.

The BSP said all applications it received until December 15, 2021 will be processed on a first-come, first-served.

“These will be assessed for completeness and sufficiency of documentation/information submitted as well as compliance with other applicable requirements,” it added.

Applications received until December 15, 2021 with noted deficiencies will be returned and considered closed, the central bank said.

New applications beginning December 16, 2021 will no longer be entertained, it added.

The BSP said the policy approach introduced the test-and-learn pathway for new non­-bank EMI applicants with new business models, unserved, targeted niches, and/or (new technologies.

“In particular, said applicants may still participate in the digital payments and financial ecosystem by requesting for exception under the Test-and-Learn / Regulatory SandboxFramework,” it said.

“The specific guidelines governing new non-bank EMI applications under the Regulatory Sandbox Framework shall be covered by a separate issuance,” it added.

Diokno explained that the policy decision “reflects our commitment to espouse an enabling environment for responsible and responsive innovation in the financial industry.”

“At the same time, we will be able to ensure that the business environment continues to serve the public interest, allow healthy competition among market players, and foster safe and interoperable payments for the digital economy,” he added.

As of end-October 2021, the BSP said there are already 35 licensed non-bank EMls, which is more than three times the number of players in 2019.

Bangko Sentral warns public vs printing of images of PH banknotes

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Wednesday reminded the public that printing images bearing the likeness of Philippine banknotes is prohibited and may result in legal action.

The BSP issued the reminder after the National Bureau of Investigation, together with the BSP Payments and Currency Investigation Group (PCIG), arrested an individual suspected of selling money or cash envelopes using the image and design of the 1000-Piso New Generation Currency banknote.

Pursuant to BSP Circular No. 829, Series of 2014, the central bank said that the act of reproducing the image of any legal tender Philippine currency banknotes, or any part of one, whether in black and white, in color, or combination of colors, without authority or approval from the BSP, is subject to imprisonment of five to 10 years.

“The public may be allowed to reproduce images of Philippine banknotes if authorization or approval from the BSP has been secured for educational, historical, numismatic, newsworthy, or other relevant purposes that will maintain, promote, or enhance the integrity and dignity of the Philippine currency,” it said.

The public may request approval from the BSP to print or reproduce images of Philippine banknotes through the PCIG at email address pcig@bsp.gov.ph, it added.

BSP assures public access to banking services under Alert Level 3

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday assured that the public will continue to have access to banking services amid the implementation of the COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

The BSP made the assurance after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases placed the following areas under Alert Level 3 due to the rising cases of COVID-19:

  • Metro Manila
  • Cavite
  • Rizal
  • Bulacan
  • Laguna
  • Baguio City
  • Dagupan City
  • City of Santiago
  • Cagayan
  • Angeles City
  • Bataan
  • Olongapo City
  • Pampanga
  • Zambales
  • Batangas
  • Lucena City
  • Naga City
  • Iloilo City
  • Lapu-lapu City

The alert level designation is effective until January 15.

The central bank also assured that its key services such as open market operations, PhilPaSS settlements, and servicing of cash withdrawals remain unhampered.

It likewise encouraged the public to use e-banking and digital payment services for safer and more efficient financial transactions.

The central bank further reiterates its directive to BSP-supervised financial institutions to “strictly observe minimum health protocols to safeguard the safety and well-being of bank personnel and customers.”

The BSP assured that it continues to implement strict COVID-19 measures in all BSP offices, including the vaccination of employees; regular sanitization of its premises; regular health screening through thermal scanning and submission of health declaration forms both for BSP employees and visitors; enhanced detection and contact tracing through regular testing; provision of comprehensive medical assistance; adoption of alternative work arrangements in keeping with IATF guidelines; and a sustained information campaign on protecting oneself from the virus.

Bangko Sentral suspends InstaPay, PESONet fee hikes

Robie de Guzman   •   December 30, 2021

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has temporarily suspended the increases in InstaPay and PESONet fees for person-to-person fund transfers.

In a statement, the BSP said banks and e-money issuers (EMIs) participating in InstaPay and PESONet are not allowed to hike fees but may waive or reduce their current fees.

Participating banks and EMIs whose transfer fees are currently waived may charge these fees again at the level prior to such waiver of fees, it added.

According to BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno, maintaining transfer fees at this time is expected to boost the country’s post-pandemic recovery.

“Likewise, it would sustain the momentum achieved so far in increased digital payments usage,” the central bank added.

Under the Monetary Board-approved issuance, said fees cannot be increased until pricing standards or guidelines have been issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) or once the volume of digital payments reaches 40%, whichever is earlier.

At the height of the pandemic last year, the BSP said several InstaPay and PESONet participants, banks and EMIs alike, waived transfer fees.

Some participants continued said waiver and the full-scale imposition of these fees is expected to resume next year.

PESONet is a batch electronic fund transfer (EFT) that can be considered as an electronic alternative to the check system.

Meanwhile, InstaPay is a real-time, low-value EFT for transactions amounting up to P50,000 and is useful for e-commerce as well as urgent payment needs.​

Under the BSP Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap, the BSP aims to digitalize 50% of the total retail payments by 2023.

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