Payments via BSP-backed QR code standard rose sharply in pandemic

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Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. (Filfoto / Philippine Daily Enquirer)

Financial retail transactions carried out through the central bank-backed national rapid response (QR) code standard have increased dramatically in recent months as the pandemic pushed more people towards contactless payment schemes, according to the central bank.

In an online briefing, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said that person-to-person payments using the “QR Ph” system – used to scan a coded pattern with one’s mobile phone – have “steadily gained traction” “during the COVID -19 health crisis

In particular, QR Ph person-to-person transactions recorded an average quarterly growth of 152 percent in volume and 255 percent in value from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021.

The figures from the end of May 2021 also showed that person-to-person transactions increased annually by 1,498 percent in volume and 6,267 percent in value.

“QR Ph provides a convenient, faster and more affordable payment option among consumers during the health crisis,” Diokno said. “Recent developments in QR Ph transactions reflect the improvement in the public’s preference for digital payments.”

Meanwhile, preparations are underway for the full launch of the QR Ph system from person to grocer later this year. Participants in the ongoing pilot phase of this scheme are currently evaluating and calibrating their systems, while trading partners and their customers are briefed on the value proposition of QR Ph to encourage its use.

“BSP and the payments industry, led by Philippine Payments Management Inc., will continue to work closely together to further expand the reach and acceptability of QR Ph among customers and resellers as well as other digital payment initiatives,” said Diokno.


“We want every Juan and Maria to make a meaningful contribution to an increasingly digital Philippine economy, as we believe no Filipino should be left behind to enjoy the benefits of digitization,” he added.

QR Ph takes advantage of the efficiency, security and affordability of QR technology. Standardization of QR codes used by all financial institutions for financial transactions enables interoperability and efficiency of digital payment services in the country.

With QR Ph, Filipinos are able to pay and transfer money by simply scanning the code with a mobile phone instead of having to bring cash, credit or debit cards. Consumers also do not have to keep separate accounts with payment service providers who are registered with QR Ph.

QR Ph also eliminates the need for registered resellers to display numerous QR codes in their businesses and purchase expensive electronic data capture systems.

Following the full launch of the person-to-trading system, the benefits of QR Ph will be extended to a wider base of stakeholders, including small banks, non-bankers, tricycles, market vendors and sari-sari store owners. INQ

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