Senator wants mandatory bank accounts for Pinoys

Senator wants mandatory bank accounts for Pinoys

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) – April 19, 2021 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — It would be a great boost for financial inclusion and economic recovery if each Filipino would have a bank account, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said yesterday.

Gatchalian, vice chairman of the Senate committee on banks and financial institutions, broached the idea of a “one Filipino, one bank account,” which he said would also help ensure prompt, contactless, and graft-free financial assistance to beneficiaries of various government and private aid programs.

“We already have a national ID (system). There’s a bill I want to file that is connected to the national ID, I call it the ‘One Filipino, One Bank Account (bill).’ The government must mandate that all should have a bank account. It’s important that we use technology,” the senator said.

“Like during this time of the pandemic, we just remit to beneficiaries of assistance, and it’s up to you how to use it,” he said. “Even the people
 dispensing the cash might get infected with COVID-19. Who will then dispense the money?”

He said having a bank account should be considered a basic requirement among Filipinos, regardless of the individual’s socio-economic class.

And with over 74 million Filipinos already using smartphones as of 2019, Gatchalian said contactless and cashless payments can be made possible through the use of their mobile phones as digital wallets.

Through the use of software applications installed in smartphones, payments can be made through scanning or card readers, he said.

A financial inclusion survey conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in 2019 showed that 51.2 million Filipino adults remain unbanked or 71 percent of the total adult population.

The lack of enough money is the topmost reason for not having a bank account, followed by the perceived lack of need for an account (27 percent), and lack of documentary requirements (26 percent).

The same BSP survey showed that access to technology has increased awareness of online payments with 38 percent of adults reported owning a smartphone while 42 percent use the internet at least once a month, 86 percent of whom connect to the internet via their mobile data. The BSP said such access to technology has given way to awareness of online payment methods.

Latest records from the Philippine Statistics Authority, meanwhile, showed that 82 percent of the 10.5 million initial registrants to the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys), or the national ID system, indicated that they do not have bank accounts. The PSA has set its target registrations to 70 million this year.

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