MANILA – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) assured the public that it is in close coordination with banking industry groups to ensure availability of withdrawal and payments services despite the community quarantine in several areas around the country.
In a statement Saturday night, the central bank said that “as part of global risk management standards, banks have in place and activated business continuity plans that aim to ensure deposit-taking, ATM withdrawals, check clearing, and other banking activities.”
“Depositors are advised to remain calm as the banking system has the ability to service all withdrawals within a reasonable period,” it said.
The statement also encourages the public to use electronic banking (e-banking) and digital payments services as these enable “the public to carry out needed financial transactions safely amid this public health crisis.”
It also urged “all banking personnel, especially frontliners, to carry out necessary protocols against Covid-19.”
This, after Metro Manila was placed under community quarantine starting the midnight of March 15 until April 14, 2020, as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared as a pandemic.
Several local government units (LGUs) around the country have also announced similar measures.
Meanwhile, the BSP statement reiterated BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno’s earlier statement that the Covid-19 outbreak “is a public health crisis, not a financial crisis.”
It said that it is in close coordination with the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB) and Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) for the sector’s cash requirements.
It also said that “payment settlements continue to be performed through PhilPass (Philippine Payment and Settlement System).”
“The BSP and the banking industry stand ready to ensure the safe and smooth functioning of the banking system,” it added.
Relatively, the Philippine e-Money Association (PeMA), in a statement Saturday, expressed their support to the central bank’s call for the public to utilize digital transaction facilities vis-à-vis the government’s call for social distancing.
PeMA chairman and PayMaya Philippines chief executive officer (CEO) and founder Orlando Vea said e-money industry players are “fully committed to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19 through digital financial services”, noting the rise of digital transactions among Filipinos for remittance, person-to-person and bank transfers, bills payments, settlement of government taxes and social service contributions, online commerce, QR (quick response) payments, and purchase of digital goods.
The public may utilize e-payments through the various facilities and mobile apps of PayMaya, GCash, GrabPay Philippines, Nationlink Network, and Omnipay, among others.
The BSP bids to increase e-payments to account for 20 percent of total transactions and 30 percent of total payments value this year. (PNA)