PROPONENTS of the Paleng-QR Ph project are encouraging local government units (LGUs) to take a proactive role in pushing for digital payments among vendors and tricycle drivers across the country.

Alfonso Manalili Jr., assistant director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), said plugging this sector into the project is a big help in achieving financial inclusion for Filipinos and at the same positions LGUs to become a tech-empowered government.

Globe-backed GCash has joined hands with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the DILG in rolling out Paleng-QR Ph in the Visayas to help achieve financial inclusion for Filipinos nationwide.

Paleng-QR PH was launched by the BSP and DILG in June to promote cashless QR transactions among market vendors, community shopkeepers, and tricycle drivers to build the country’s digital payments ecosystem.

During the Visayan leg of the GCash-hosted One With The Nation forum, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, representatives from both the private and public sectors agreed to work together in implementing the digital initiative.

The event gathered key officials from BSP, DILG and LGUs, as well as business leaders to discuss the future of digital financial services in a post-Covid landscape.

“We fully support Paleng-QR because we recognize that to get everyday Filipinos started on cashless transactions, the natural place to start is where they usually spend money — our palengkes and local transportation like tricycles. We positioned ourselves in these areas to enable more vendors and drivers to thrive through digital,” said GCash president and chief executive officer Martha Sazon.

Greg Baccay, head of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Regional Economic Affairs, said Paleng-QR Ph can help meet the central bank’s ambitious goals for improved digitalization and financial inclusion.

BSP’s goal is to shift 50 percent or half of all transactions to digital by 2023 and 70 percent of Filipino adults should have formal bank accounts by 2023.

Baccay said Paleng-QR Ph is a good platform for vendors and tricycle drivers to become digitally abled, especially now that both business and consumers have accelerated their use of technology.

“The challenge now is how to deal with the hesitations and resistance from this sector,” he said. The BSP official suggested this can be solved through policy issuances of the LGUs to incentivize or mandate the use of QR Ph digital payments.

According to the BSP, the Paleng-QR Ph program highlights the significance of market purchases and local transportation fares as basic components of an average Filipino’s typical payment pattern.

“Until a market vendor and tricycle driver can accept digital payments, transitioning to cashless transactions would be difficult for an average Filipino consumer,” the central bank said.

Baccay added that provision of assistance by financial service providers like GCash and the conduct of financial literacy programs by the LGUs are also crucial steps to successfully onboard the sector in a cashless economy.

By using the GCash app, tricycle drivers and merchants can easily receive and transfer money securely and conveniently with just a few taps on their smartphone, saving them time and effort.

Cathlyn Pavia, GCash assistant vice president and head of public sector and partnerships, said using GCash as a mode of payment makes transactions faster and easier. Cashless payments also address the “sukli” (change) challenge that is encountered every day by vendors and tricycle drivers.

“By removing barriers through digital channels, we have made financial services easier to access and understand. Now, fishermen, palengke (market) vendors, tricycle drivers and street vendors already have GCash. We have definitely made progress. But there’s still so much more we can do. We need to all work together for a brighter, more financially inclusive future for Filipinos,” said Sazon.

During the gathering, key LGUs in Visayas also pledged their support for the implementation and adoption of the Paleng-QR Ph program.

GCash, which now records 71 million users, has maintained market dominance as it closed the first nine months of the year with a gross transaction value of P4.8 trillion, surpassing the P3.8 trillion it recorded in 2021. (KOC)