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Banks given two months to gear up for InstaPay

Original Post by Melissa Luz T. LopezSenior Reporter, as featured in Business World

 


 

BANKS are given two months to get their online platforms ready to do real-time fund transfers under InstaPay, an industry official said, with only nine banks currently offering the full service.

Carmelita R. Araneta, general manager of Philippine Payments Management Inc. (PPMI), said the industry-led body has given all banks an October deadline to update their channels and do both real-time sending and receiving of money online.

“Right now, we only have nine banks who can both send and receive. We also have 18 banks who can only receive, but the ACH (automated clearing house) steering committee has given the deadline that by Oct. 1, all participant banks and institutions of the InstaPay should be able to send and receive,” Ms. Araneta said during a conference at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) last Friday.

Launched April 23, InstaPay clears electronic fund transfers worth up to P50,000 per transaction and without a daily limit. The platform is available 24/7, with the funds to be made available to receivers almost immediately.

The PPMI is an industry-led body tasked to perform oversight on the digital clearing houses and electronic banking channels offered by financial firms.

BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said separately that banks can only cash in on the InstaPay service if they are able to send money out, as they can only collect transaction fees from this end.

“The basic obligation to be a valid member is you have to receive, that’s mandatory. Then being able to send is a business decision,” Mr. Espenilla said.

“Our rule is sender pays. But if your operation only is to receive (money), hindi ka kikita (you won’t profit). That’s why the business incentive is to be a sender.”

The Asia United Bank, BDO Unibank, Inc., China Banking Corp., China Bank Savings, Equicom Savings Bank, Security Bank Corp. and UnionBank of the Philippines have been offering real-time sending and receiving services to its customers since InstaPay was launched. The Philippine Savings Bank and Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. followed suit.

Meanwhile, 15 banks and three e-money issuers are able to receive interbank transfers as of July.

Clients of InstaPay participants maintaining savings, current or e-money accounts can use the platform to send or receive cash via cash transfer instructions made through online or mobile app channels.

InstaPay is expected to be high-impact as it is expected to give a substantial boost for e-commerce. This is the second clearing house launched under the National Retail Payment System, with the goal of raising the share of e-payments to at least 20% of total transactions by 2020 from a measly one percent recorded in 2013.

Mr. Espenilla also said the central bank is looking to require industry players to use a standard design for quick response (QR) codes to ensure efficient transactions across service providers.

QR codes are computer-generated images which are used for payments or fund transfers, and are readable using smartphone cameras. The BSP is expected to issue a circular on the matter, which will then push the PPMI to execute and comply with the standard among their member-firms.

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