The value of online payments coursed through the automated clearing houses established by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reached P3.81 trillion in the first three months of the year, as Filipinos continue to use digital channels for their financial transactions.

Latest central bank data showed the combined value of electronic fund transfers via InstaPay and PESONet jumped by 32.8 percent from P2.87 trillion in the same period in 2023.

Likewise, the combined volume of these transactions soared by 69.6 percent to 309.3 million from January to March this year versus last year's 182.4 million.

Broken down, the value of PESONet transactions grew by 26.1 percent to P2.27 trillion in the first quarter from P1.8 trillion seen in 2023. The volume during the period stood at 23.6 million, 4.8 percent higher than last year.

For March alone, the value increased by 13.1 percent to P735.4 billion from P650 billion, while volume slipped by 1.6 percent to 7.77 million from 7.9 million.

On the other hand, the value of InstaPay transactions in the first quarter surged by 44 percent to P1.54 trillion from P1.07 trillion in the same quarter in 2023. This developed as volume soared by 78.6 percent to 285.7 million from 159.9 million.

For March, the value of InstaPay transfers jumped by 38.8 percent to P540.1 billion from P388.9 billion as volume surged by 71 percent to 99.4 million.

PESONet and InstaPay are automated clearing houses launched in December 2015 under the BSP's National Retail Payment System (NRPS) to promote safe, efficient, affordable, inclusive and reliable retail payment systems.

PESONet enables high-value transactions and may be considered as an electronic alternative to the paper-based check system, while InstaPay is a real-time, low value electronic fund transfer facility for transactions of up to P50,000 and is most useful for remittances and e-commerce.

BSP Deputy Governor Mamerto Tangonan earlier said he is confident that the central bank has reached its goal to have 50 percent of total retail transactions done digitally by end-2023.

However, the data will likely be released in July.

With the COVID-19 pandemic serving as catalyst, the share of online payments in the total volume of retail transactions rose to 42.1 percent in 2022 from 30.3 percent in 2021, based on the BSP's 2022 Status of Digital Payments report.

Prior to the launch of the NRPS, the share of electronic payments to total retail transactions stood at only one percent in 2013.

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