BSP to close all e-money applications for two years

BSP to close all e-money applications for two years

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will implement a two-year ban on all non-bank electronic money issuer (EMI) applications including those bank-owned EMIs beginning Dec. 16 to ensure a liquidity-strong digital payments sector.

“The ban is for all non-bank EMI including those bank-owned,” said BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier in a text message on Friday, Nov. 19.

Fonacier said the two-year moratorium will allow the BSP to monitor the EMI sector and to ensure financial stability. “BSP is currently assessing the impact of the number of players on the overall development of this segment in the industry,” she said.

All applications for EMI license from non-bank institutions which is also referred to as “EMI-Others” received until Dec. 15 will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, according to BSP Memorandum No. M-2021-064, signed by BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

The memo covers EMI-Others or non-bank institutions registered with the BSP as a money transfer agent. Other institutions issuing e-money are classified as EMI-Bank and EMI-NBFIs or non-bank financial institutions.

Based on the memo, the decision to close the application window for non-bank EMI-Others is to guarantee that resources will be managed and “mobilized judiciously.” It is also to ensure the development of “innovative e-money solutions that offer strong value propositions.”

Proposals that offer “strong value propositions” should be carefully explained and to submit detailed proposals on the following: new business models; unserved and targeted niches; and new technologies that will be offered.

“The BSP may limit the total number of entities that will avail of the test and learn pathway taking into account the total number of applications received and the assessment of the overall banking and payment systems situation,” said Diokno in the memo.

Non-bank EMI applications received before Dec. 15 with incomplete requirements will be declined and documents will be returned. The BSP said it will no longer process these applications further.

The BSP will be issuing another memo to guide new non-bank EMIs that will apply before the window closes on Dec. 16.

As of end-September this year, the BSP is supervising 34 registered and licensed non-bank EMIs including GCash, PayMaya and GrabPay. The BSP is also monitoring 29 bank-owned EMIs.

E-money is described as electronically-stored cash in an instrument or device such as cash cards, e-wallets accessible via mobile phones or other access device. The BSP defines it as “issued against receipt of funds of an amount not lesser in value than the monetary value issued and accepted as a means of payment by persons or entities other than the issuer.” It is also withdrawable in cash or cash equivalent. E-money held by EMI-Bank is however not considered as deposits.

At the end of 2020, there are 84,299 e-money agents in the country, about 134.3 percent higher compared to end-2019 of 35,959.

Based on the BSP’s latest inclusive digital finance data, the number of active e-money accounts reached 34.7 million as of end-2020, up by 93.3 percent from the previous year’s 17.9 million.

E-money transactions last year totaled 501 million as inflows, and 1.2 billion as outflows, up by 180.8 percent and 168.6 percent year-on-year, respectively. In peso terms, transactions as inflows reached P1.22 billion in 2020, up by 63.8 percent from 2019. Transactions as outflows amounted to P1.19 billion, up by 60.7 percent compared to 2019, based on BSP data.