By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Senior Reporter
BANKS and e-money issuers have set up a new clearing house for real-time fund transfers yesterday, with seven lenders now able to process interbank transactions in a matter of seconds.
Industry players unveiled the InstaPay platform on Monday, which serves as an automated clearing house to process payments across accounts from different banks and electronic wallets.
InstaPay will clear electronic fund transfers (EFT) worth up to P50,000 per transaction, without limit, with the funds to be made available to receivers “almost immediately.” The platform is available 24/7 all-year round, compared to usual limitations of over-the-counter transactions which are completed in a matter of hours or even one day.
Clients of InstaPay participants maintaining savings, current or e-money accounts can use the platform to send or receive cash via cash transfer instructions made through online or mobile app channels.
The Asia United Bank, BDO Unibank, Inc., China Banking Corp., China Bank Savings, Equicom Savings Bank, Security Bank Corp., and UnionBank of the Philippines currently offer real-time sending and receiving services to its customers as of yesterday.
Thirteen firms are able to receive fund transfers via InstaPay: CTBC Bank, East West Banking Corp., Land Bank of the Philippines, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., Philippine Trust Co., Philippine Savings Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Robinsons Bank Corp., Sun Savings Bank, the United Coconut Planters Bank, and the Yuanta Savings Bank.
Financial technology firms Omnipay and PayMaya are also able to receive real-time credit, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
This is the second clearing house created particularly for e-payments after the Philippine EFT System and Operations Network (PESONet) rolled out in November, which settles funds in batches.
BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said he expects more financial institutions to offer the InstaPay service later this year, as he pointed out that some banks are still tweaking internal systems and digital platforms to accommodate the new channel.
“Banks will have pressure in offering this — they can’t afford to be out of this system. We expect everybody on board in the middle of this year,” Abraham T. Co, president of the Philippine Payments Management, Inc., said during a briefing yesterday.
InstaPay is expected to be more high-impact in terms of processing money transfers, as it is expected to give a substantial boost for e-commerce. Mr. Espenilla said this platform under the National Retail Payment System renders the central bank’s goal of raising the share of e-payments to at least 20% of total transactions by 2020, coming from a measly 1% recorded in 2013.
Offering digital payments is seen as the fastest way towards wider financial inclusion, with more Filipinos owning smartphones than those with access to bank branches nationwide.
The central bank said they will not set a cap on transaction fees charged for these services, but noted that lenders must strictly adhere to a “sender pays” rule and ensure that fund recipients will receive the entire amount being transferred online.