As part of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) strategic initiatives to modernize the country’s retail payment system, increase the adoption of greater use of e-payments, and to shift from a cash-heavy to a cash-lite society, the Philippine EFT System and Operations Network (PESONet) was launched on 08 November 2017 at its Head Office in Manila.
The event, hosted by BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr., was attended by heads and officials of national government agencies, Mr. Justo Ortiz, Chairman, Philippine Payments Management, Inc. (PMMI) together with other banking and payments industry leaders, as well as representatives from the USAID.
The PESONet, which is a batch electronic fund transfer credit (EFT) payment stream, is the first automated clearing house (ACH) under the National Retail Payment System (NRPS). Launched in December 2015, the NRPS relies heavily on inter-government agency collaboration and industry participation to bring about a safe, efficient, affordable, and reliable retail payment system. The NRPS is envisioned to bring about an interoperable ecosystem allowing seamless electronic fund transfers and payments between and among accounts.
PESONet is one of the ACHs prioritized for implementation given its potential to be an efficient channel for government and private business collections and disbursement. PESONet provides an electronic alternative to the still widely used paper-based check system.
Through PESONet, businesses, the government, and individuals will be able to conveniently initiate electronic fund transfers and recurring payments from the sender’s accounts maintained in BSP supervised financial institution (BSFIs), such as banks and other non-bank electronic money issuers (NB EMIs), to corresponding recipient accounts in other BSFIs.
Funds can be made available to the recipient account/s within the same banking day or immediately upon clearing. Payees receive the funds transferred in full and shall not pay for electronic crediting to their accounts. Moreover, for greater transparency and to help clients determine which EFT products offer the best value for their money, all participating BFSIs are required to disclose to BSP the details of all fees that will be charged to their clients. A bulletin board of fees will then be posted at the BSP website.
To date, 33 BSFIs, which are comprised of universal, commercial, thrift and rural banks as well as NB EMIs, have signed up to participate in the PESONet. This number is expected to increase as the demand for better EFT services intensifies.
During the launch, BSP Governor Espenilla cited convenience to businesses, government and the public as PESONet’s most obvious and foreseeable benefit.
Governor Espenilla described PESONet as a more inclusive platform for EFTs which will make business-to-business (B2B), and customer-to-business (C2B) payments more practical; enable corporations to credit salaries to respective existing accounts of their employees without need for the creation of special payroll accounts; enable the digitization of government-to-government (G2G) and person-to-government (P2G) collections and payments. PESONet is also an opportunity for smaller industry players such as thrift and rural banks to have greater participation in the retail payment system.
Other expected gains from PESONet are lowered costs; more efficient budget administration on government’s part; better liquidity management on private businesses’ side; and increased economic activity due to the accelerated velocity of payments and immediate availability of funds. Digital innovation in the delivery of financial services, and greater financial inclusion leveraging on technology to reach the financially unserved and underserved were also mentioned as anticipated outcomes.
Following the launch of PESONet, the BSP, other government agencies, and industry players will continue working for the full implementation of NRPS. Another ACH - InstaPay which will enable 24/7 low value electronic fund transfers is expected to be launched in 2018.