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Philippines set for full adoption of unified QR code for payments
Central bank working with banking community to lower or do away with transaction fees
Patricia Chiu 24 Mar 2023

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Philippines’ central bank, has set a July 1 deadline for the full adoption of the country’s unified QR code standard for secure payments.

Called “QR Ph”, the quick response code standard is based on EMV (which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa), a global standard for authenticating smart card transactions.

"With the active development of the industry in this space, it is timely for the BSP to ensure that QR-enabled payments are supported through the interoperable QR Ph standard,” says BSP governor Felipe Medalla. “This way, payment service providers (PSPs) and their clients would be able to fully realize the benefits brought by the convenience, speed, and ease of using QR Ph.”

Under the new rules, BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) and PSPs that use QR code-enabled payment services will have to use and display the approved QR Ph on their internet and mobile channels starting July 1st.

In addition, PSPs will be required to submit the status of their compliance with the QR Ph standard within 30 days from the date the memorandum was issued (March 10).

After July 1st, non-QR Ph codes, including proprietary codes of PSPs and BSFIs, will be disabled and will no longer be usable. This means establishments accepting digital payments will only need to display one QR code to accept payments. 

Digital payments

According to the BSP, standardizing QR codes is meant to “enhance customer and merchant experience, leading to greater usage of digital payments”.

The unified QR code implementation will be adopted for both person-to-person and person-to-merchant payments, which form the bulk of the average total retail payments made by Filipinos in a month. 

As the country moves to a unified payment system, the BSP also reminds PSPs to provide appropriate product training and guidance on the features of QR Ph to their employees, including store cashiers and managers.

As part of its efforts to encourage digital payments adoption in the country, the BSP says it is working with banks to lower transaction fees, or even scrap them altogether. 

The banking sector is moving towards a “cost-sharing system that excludes payments from fees, provided they are made below a certain number of transactions”, Medalla says, adding that transaction fees, no matter how small, remain a barrier against full digital payments adoption.

The BSP has earlier issued a Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap, which aims to convert half of retail payments volume from cash-based to digital by end-2023. 

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