TO STRENGTHEN financial inclusion among Filipinos and to improve contactless transactions during the Covid-19 pandemic, a lawmaker wants owning a bank account to be considered a basic requirement among Filipinos, regardless of socio-economic class.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who is vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies, said each Filipino should own one bank account he called “One Filipino, One Bank Account.”
“We now have a national ID. I have one bill I want to file in connection with the national ID which is ‘One Filipino, One Bank Account.’ It should be mandatory for the government to give everyone living in the country a bank account,” he said.
Gatchalian said having a bank account would allow Filipinos to enjoy the convenience of contactless and cashless payments which can be done in their mobile phone, especially during this time of pandemic.
It will also ensure the prompt delivery of financial assistance by the government.
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 BSP said 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).
Latest records from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 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.
Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu welcomed the proposal, saying increasing access and understanding of financial technology (fintech) or other banking products among the unbanked population is the solution, for a country to attain inclusive growth and spread equal opportunities to all.
“With our wide geography and dispersed demography, we can only attain that end through fintech, and now is the right time to do it because we have the technology already. Aside from stopping the spread of Covid-19 and other viruses, going cashless will also improve access to business opportunities especially to the micro-businesses,” he said.
Rey Calooy, chairman of the Filipino Cebuano Business Club, said it is a good move in terms of teaching the masses the mechanisms of banking, especially in the remotest areas.
“Compared to other Asian countries, we are really lagging behind in terms of financial literacy. In terms of saving habits, we also are low on that. The awareness in investing in the stock exchange and other investments is very low too. It is high time all Filipinos were involved, no matter how rich or poor they are,” he said. (JOB)