MANILA, Philippines — The financial inclusion and digitalization efforts of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) got a major boost as the Department of Agriculture (DA) endorsed the issuance of cards to an estimated 13.5 million farmers and fisherfolk nationwide.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar endorsed to state-run Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) the plan of AgriNurture Inc. (ANI) consortium to provide physical and virtual financial cards to farmers and fisherfolk affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are pleased to endorse to your good office the initiative of ANI for we believe that the farmers and fisherfolk in the country, who are among the worst hit by the pandemic, will benefit from this,” Dar said in a letter to DBP president and chief executive officer Emmanuel Herbosa.
The company has offered to provide financial cards that contain an e-wallet and QR code to all farmers and fisherfolk registered in the registry for basic sectors in agriculture. The cards, to be coursed through consortium members of ANI, could be used in claiming interventions provided by the agriculture department. Dar said ANI’s initiative is in line with the digitalization efforts of the department through the OneDA strategies.
“Aside from that, it will help farmers and fisherfolk majority (of whom) are considered to be unbanked members of the society in easily claiming the interventions being provided by DA,” Dar stated in the letter dated March 5.
Furthermore, the DA chief said the initiative would help provide IDs to farmers and fisherfolk who are denied financial access due to lack of documents.
DA’s plan is in sync with BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno’s goal to ‘hit two birds with one stone’ under the central bank’s Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap 2020-2023 to advance an efficient, inclusive, safe and secure digital payment ecosystem.
The roadmap aims to strengthen customer preference for digital payments by converting 50 percent of the total volume and value of retail payments into digital form and double the number of financial included Filipino adults to 70 percent by onboarding them to the formal financial system. This would transform the Philippines to a cash-lite from cash-heavy society before Diokno steps down in 2023.
ANI’s affiliate Greenergy Holdings Inc. (GHI) recently acquired the 51 percent stake of ABS-CBN Corp. and iBayad Online Ventures Inc. in U-Pay Digital Technologies Inc. to jumpstart the e-wallet service to kapamilya members.