PH building conducive policy environment for sustainable digital finance ecosystem – Diokno

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno stated that the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is determined to fuel the Philippines’ growth momentum by building a policy environment that is conducive to sustainable digital finance.

“We are establishing a fertile policy space that allows for a sustainable digital finance ecosystem to take root and thrive,” Secretary Diokno said in a recorded message during the Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) Industry Collaboration Media Kick-Off on October 17, 2023 at the Ascott Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

The Philippines is set to take on the global stage from November 15 to 17, 2023 at the SFF—the world’s biggest fintech event where policy, finance, and technology communities converge. It will be attended by over 62,000 participants from 115 countries worldwide.

Joining international exhibitors to showcase the Marcos administration’s massive investment and digitalization campaign is the Bagong Pilipinas Country Pavilion, which is being mounted by FinTech—the Philippines’ leading and largest digital trade organization.

The government is determined to broaden public access to information by using open data formats, lowering barriers to internet connectivity, and boosting broadband access in the country.

With this, Secretary Diokno shared five Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFPs) to boost digital connectivity, namely: Digital Transformation Centers (Upgraded “Tech4ED” Project), National Government Data Center (NGDC), National Broadband Program (NBP), Road Transport Information Technology Infrastructure Project Phase II (LTFRB IT), and Philippine Identification System (PhilSys).

“Four of these are already ongoing while one is under project preparation. Together, the indicative total project cost amounts to about 1.7 billion US dollars,” he said.

Furthermore, the government has been continuously rolling out programs to enhance digital bureaucracy in order to deliver better services, such as targeted social protection and more efficient employment-opportunity linking systems.

“Digitizing government transactions will help us increase the share of digital transactions in total payment volume to at least 50 percent, as envisioned in the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap that I initiated when I was Central Bank Governor,” Secretary Diokno said.

The Finance Secretary cited the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)’s Digital Transformation (DX) Program, which expanded its range of electronic payment channels that allow taxpayers to file and pay taxes online. As a result, 69 percent or more than half of total returns were filed electronically in 2022.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), and Landbank have likewise launched their own electronic filing and online payment systems to give greater access to financial services.

To eliminate delays and problems associated with traditional ways of governance, the government is pushing for the passage of the E-Governance bill, which mandates the adoption of information and communications technology (ICT) across government agencies.

“In our pursuit of a truly “Bagong Pilipinas” or a new Philippines, the President has made the E-Governance bill one of our priority legislations in his first State of the Nation Address,” Secretary Diokno said.

On the other hand, Secretary Diokno urged the private sector to leverage digital infrastructure and data to collaborate, develop innovative business models, and navigate disruption.

He highlighted the crucial role of fintech in reaching the unbanked segments of the population and emphasized the need to reinforce this with stronger consumer protection.

“In order for digital transformation to succeed, we must close the digital gap and ensure that the gains from digitalization are broadly shared,” Secretary Diokno said.