Digital trends in payments in Asia

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Technological innovations are changing the payments landscape in Asia, including the Philippines. This was underscored during the forum on “Ushering in the Future of Payments” hosted by Citi Philippines recently at the Citi Plaza in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

Debopama Sen, Citi’s ASEAN Treasury and Trade Solutions head, said, “Business models have to transform because clients are driving changes.” Sen said people wanted the ability to decide immediately when to order or acquire a service or product, regardless of time and/or day. “Customers want instant fulfillment of the transaction, which includes the underlying payment.”

The forum was attended by almost 170 representatives of local corporations and global subsidiaries.

Sen said, to respond to customer demand for faster payment schemes, “Businesses and companies are moving towards online and real-time (payment).”

Guest speakers from various government agencies affirmed their commitment to continue establishing a regulatory environment that supported the development of a national payment system and allow digital innovations to flourish.

Keynote speaker Chuchi G. Fonacier, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) deputy governor, said both the private sector and regulators had unique roles to play in the future of payments. “As a catalyst for change, the BSP is open to collaborative discussions on how to reduce further friction in payments towards a more efficient, more secure and more reliable payment system in the Philippines.”

Fonacier said, “The BSP remains steadfast in embracing growth opportunities through technology and the digital transformation of the banking system. We continue to monitor the environment and issue regulations aimed at mitigating effects of payment-related risk, to promote financial integrity, transparency in financial transactions, uphold consumer protection and elevate the overall confidence of the public in the national payment system.”

Citi Philippines’ Treasury and Trade Solutions head Arlene Nethercott said Citi adopted a consultative partnership to address the challenges in managing clients’ working capital. She said the launch of the Philippine EFT System and Operations Network (PESONet), a batch electronic funds transfer (EFT) payment stream that enables same-day, full-value transactions, was a step towards modernizing the country’s payment system.

“We aim to align with the BSP to achieve 20 percent increase in electronic payments by 2020,” said Nethercott.  “We are currently working to promote faster payments while allowing member banks to settle among themselves prior to giving final credit to clients.”

Nethercott added that Citi’s own next-generation banking platform, CitiDirect BE, provided one-click access to global transaction capabilities. The platform supports numerous transaction types across multiple geographies, subsidiaries and currencies. Users can manage accounts, payments, receivables, liquidity, trade, foreign exchange and reporting across the globe with online, mobile and tablet versions.

Citi is working with clients throughout Asia to develop solutions using the latest technological advances, from instant payments to machine learning.

Citi Asia Pacific Core Cash Management for Treasury and Trade Solutions head Morgan McKenney explained, “Big data storage and retrieval, real-time cloud computing, mobile phones, high band width, secure internet and API (Application Programming Interfaces) technology – all these individual components are coming together leading to shifting business models, regulatory driven changes as well as changes in client approach and expectations.” McKenney said the newer technologies resulted in the evolution of the payment infrastructure, as corporations searched for payment solutions that increased sales, reduced costs and improved margins.

McKenney said, in Asia, opportunities for the development of these technologies were fueled by significant growth in disposable income, extensive Internet and mobile access, emergence of new and frictionless payment mechanisms and the drive of regulators to fuel growth.

The forum ended with a panel discussion by Raymond Estioko, BSP’s Payment System Oversight Department acting director, and National Retail Payment System (NRPS) Core Team chair; Melit Araneta, Philippine Payments Management Inc (PPMI) general manager; and Bureau of Internal Revenue assistant commissioner Charo Curiba and Client Support Service OIC head revenue executive assistant Janette Cruz.

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