Press Release
November 10, 2020


Sen. Grace Poe said improved internet service in the country will help increase inclusion among unbanked Filipinos who continue to reel from high fees and risky systems in their financial transactions.

A 2019 Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) survey showed that over 51 million Filipino adults do not have a bank account or do not use bank transactions due to lack of enough money and documentary requirements, and refusal to open an account.

"A steady internet along with digital innovations can offer ways to bring Filipinos out of financial darkness," explained Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies.

"It is crucial to connect the people with the broader economy to help improve lives and livelihood," she said.

The BSP survey also showed 60 percent of Filipino adults have a mobile phone, while 53 percent use the internet. The central bank said only 12 percent of mobile phone owners and nine percent of internet users use their mobile phones and the internet for financial transactions.

"With better internet access and service, mobile phone users can use e-money apps to allow them to access financial services," Poe said.

During the pandemic, there was an overwhelming surge in digital payment transactions where fund transfer service providers' combined online transactions skyrocketed to a 70-percent increase in volume and 42 percent in value in comparison to the first quarter of the year.

Poe pointed out in an online forum on Accelerating Digital Transformation that despite the successful transition to digital payments, internet access remains a challenge.

"The pandemic has made us painfully aware of our internet system's weaknesses. Our role as policy makers is not to stand in the way of innovation, but to enhance it, enable it, and support ways to improve upon it," Poe said.

Poe has filed Senate Bill No. 1831 or the Better Internet Act that aims to provide fast, reliable, secure, and affordable internet by mandating the increase in service coverage, setting of threshold speed and other service standards, streamlining of permits, and infrastructure sharing.

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