Open banking in PH: Leveraging technology for financial inclusion

Open banking in PH: Leveraging technology for financial inclusion

Financial inclusion in the Philippines has come a long way. Data coming from the latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Financial Inclusion Survey (FIS) shows that the rate of account ownership soared to 56 percent in 2021 from a mere 29 percent in 2019. This means the number of unbanked Filipinos dropped to 34.3 million (representing 44 percent of the total adult population) in 2021 from 51.2 million in 2019. That is a reduction of 16.9 million!

But more work must be done to ensure that most Filipinos have access to financial services. This is where open banking plays a critical role.

 

Open banking is a transformative concept in the world of finance, enabling increased transparency, competition, and innovation by allowing third-party developers to access financial data and services.

In the Philippines, where access to financial services has traditionally been limited, open banking is poised to play a pivotal role in expanding financial inclusion. It leverages technology in several ways to address these challenges.

 

For one, digital wallets and mobile banking apps have enabled Filipinos to access basic financial services through their smartphones. These apps allow users to perform transactions, pay bills, and even invest, reducing the reliance on physical bank branches.

Fintech startups are also capitalizing on open banking’s potential to create innovative solutions tailored to the needs of Filipinos. These startups offer services like micro-loans, insurance, and investment opportunities, making financial products more accessible to a broader audience.

 

Open banking likewise relies on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that enable secure data sharing between financial institutions and third-party providers. In the Philippines, the use of APIs has facilitated easier access to banking services, even for those without traditional bank accounts.

An example is how RCBC can facilitate merchants in accepting payments from RCBC Digital and RCBC DiskarTech apps users via Brankas, offering automated bank transfers from RCBC or DiskarTech accounts to any bank account for both individual and bulk transactions, while enabling digital platform integration for seamless bank account enrolment for merchants.

 

The successful implementation of open banking in the Philippines relies on a supportive regulatory framework. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country’s central bank, has been actively fostering an environment conducive to open banking. The BSP issued Circular No. 1105 in 2021, which provides guidelines for digital banks, including those that operate under an open banking framework. This regulatory support ensures security, privacy, and compliance within the open banking ecosystem, instilling confidence in both customers and financial institutions.

This augurs well with the BSP’s drive to make open banking beneficial to Filipinos. One of its apparent benefits is that it widens the reach of financial services, enabling more Filipinos to access banking, savings, and investment products, thereby reducing the wealth gap.

 

In addition, by allowing third-party providers to compete in the financial sector, open banking fosters innovation and drives down costs, making financial products and services more affordable for consumers.

While open banking holds significant promise, it also poses challenges. Data security and privacy concerns must be addressed, and customer education about the benefits and risks of open banking is crucial. Additionally, ensuring that open banking does not leave vulnerable populations behind requires a concerted effort.

 

It is opportune that Brankas, the leading Open Finance technology company that enables innovation and embedded finance for brands globally, and Appsynth, a digital innovation consultancy firm, are organizing an executive roundtable – Open Banking: From Traditional to Trailblazing through Technology – An Exclusive Gathering of CXOs slated October 19, 2023.

Joining the roster of speakers/panelists are Albert Tinio, Co-CEO, GoTyme; Delfin Jay Sabido IX, PhD, Chief Innovation and Transformation Officer, Chinabank; Ronald Jose Puno, CTO, UnionDigital Bank; Todd Schweitzer, CEO and Co-founder, Brankas; and Bob Gallagher, Founder and CEO, Appsynth.

The roundtable promises to uncover the various strategies that can leverage technologies for open banking, as well as discuss best practices to accelerate financial inclusion using open banking technology.

The author is the Founder and CEO of Hungry Workhorse, a digital, culture, and customer experience transformation consulting firm. He is a Fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation. He is the Chair of the Digital Transformation IT Governance Committee of FINEX Academy. He teaches strategic management and digital transformation in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. The author may be emailed at rey.lugtu@hungryworkhorse.com

Source: https://mb.com.ph/2023/10/3/open-banking-in-ph-leveraging-technology-for-financial-inclusion