The Philippines has been recognized as having one of the best company registration systems in the world, owing to the digital innovations put forward by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) through the Electronic Simplified Processing of Application for Registration of Company (eSPARC).
The Commission received the Corporate Registers Forum (CRF) 2023 Innovation Award from the international body of corporate registries during a conference in Malta from October 17 to 20.
The CRF Innovation Award recognizes CRF members that have successfully enacted unique and creative world-class initiatives that empower internal and external stakeholders, increase effectiveness, productivity, and efficiency, streamline processes, and improve customer satisfaction.
The CRF is an association of international corporate registries that aims to provide its members with the opportunity to review the latest developments in corporate business registers internationally as well as exchange experiences and information on their present and future operations.
The SEC joins five other international regulators in receiving commendation from the CRF, namely Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, Kazakhstan’s Astana Financial Services Authority, Maldives’ Ministry of Economic Development, Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission, and the Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Public Legal Records and Related Services.
The CRF also recognized under the excellence category the Turkey Ministry of Trade – Board of Directors Decision Module and General Assembly Decision Module, as well as the United Kingdom, Companies House – Register of Overseas Entities.
“The SEC is proud to accept this award, as it showcases not only our dedication to easing the doing of business in the country but also the benefits of embracing digital transformation,” SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said.
“We will continue to improve and innovate our existing and soon-to-be launched digital innovations in order to make our services easily accessible and efficient to the benefit of the investing public, the Philippine corporate sector, and the economy as a whole,” he added.
Launched in 2021, eSPARC is the automated system developed by the SEC for company registration.
Through eSPARC, the SEC was able to reduce the company registration process from 16 steps in 34 days to three days. Its subsystem, the One-Day Submission and Electronic Registration of Companies (OneSEC), further sped up the process and posted a record time of 1 minute and 14 seconds from the start of application to the receipt of a digital Certificate of Incorporation.
eSPARC is integrated with the Philippine Business Hub, allowing companies to proceed with registration with other government agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Social Security System, and the Home Mutual Development Fund (PAG-IBIG), among others, after successful registration with the SEC.
eSPARC was developed and continues to be managed by the Commission’s in-house information technology and registration technical teams, ensuring the system’s continuous improvement and sustainability amid changing legal and regulatory frameworks.
The launch of eSPARC helped spur business formation in the Philippines. As of end-2022, the SEC recorded a total of 42,926 company registrations, an increase of 13% from its launch in 2021.
Aside from eSPARC, the SEC has launched several initiatives under its digital transformation program since 2021. The Commission also launched the Electronic System for Payments to the SEC (eSPAYSEC), and the Electronic Filing and Submission Tool (eFAST). This year, it launched five new digital services, namely Electronic SEC Universal Registration Environment (eSECURE); Electronic SEC Education, Analysis, Research Computing Hub (eSEARCH); SEC API Marketplace; Electronic Registration Application for Market Participants (eRAMP); and the SEC CheckApp 2.0.
The Commission’s digital transformation program has consistently been recognized by both local and global organizations.
In 2022, Mr. Aquino was named CEO of the Year for the Philippines by the
International Data Corporation during the Future Enterprise Award 2022. The Asia CEO Awards also named the SEC a Circle of Excellence Awardee for the Service Excellence Company of the Year in the same year.
The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission conferred a Plaque of Honor to the SEC for improving public service through the development of innovative measures. In 2019, the Anti-Red Tape Authority lauded the Commission’s major contributions in elevating the Philippines’ ranking in the 2020 Doing Business Report by the World Bank. in the Ease of Doing Business World Bank ranking.
Other reforms implemented by the Commission helped lift the Philippines to the 95th spot from 124th in 2019 in the Doing Business Report, which noted that the country made significant improvements in three key areas, namely starting a business, dealing with construction permits, and protecting minority investors.