New Champions of Open Finance Empowers the Underserved and Underbanked

Staff ni Anjie
As the country evolves toward a digital economy, new champions have emerged, promoting Open Finance as a critical pillar that can bring financial inclusion to millions of Filipinos. Leaders from government, banking, fintech, and insurance examined how they may empower the underserved and underbanked during a virtual stakeholder meeting and thanksgiving celebration hosted by World Fintech Festival (WFF), Digital Pilipinas Movement, and Fintech Philippines Association (FPH).

First Row: National Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro; Second Row, From L: Noel Santiago, Bank of the Philippine Islands Chief Digital Officer; Todd Schweitzer, Brankas CEO; and Wick Veloso, Philippine National Bank and Bankers Association of the Philippines President; Third Row, From L: Dan Wolbert, VISA Country Manager for the Philippines; Jojo Malolos, GOTyme President; and Amor Maclang, Digital Pilipinas Convenor & FPH Executive Director; Fourth Row, From L: Lawrence Ferrer, Bayad Center President; Jove Tapiador, FPH Co-founder & Trustee; and Mark Gorriceta, Managing Partner of Gorriceta Law & FPH Trustee; Bottom Row, From L: Edison Tsai, SeedIn Technology Partner/Executive Director & FPH Trustee; Ida Tiongson, FPH Trustee; and Host, RJ Ledesma

According to Wick Veloso, President of Philippine National Bank (PNB) and Philippine Bankers Association (PBA), customer-centricity is a guiding principle of Open Finance, which "allows banks and other financial institutions to better serve their consumers." "We have to be serious about getting to the bottom of the pyramid, the unbanked, and truly banking them," said Jojo Malolos, President of digital bank GOTyme. Imagine being able to give farmers loans simply by acquiring their permission to share their data, allowing you to tailor loans to their specific needs."

According to Edison Tsai, Partner and Executive Director of SeedIn Technology, the following are some of the critical benefits of Open Finance: "The first outcome is that it empowers clients" by giving them more control over their financial data. Second, "it allows financial institutions and third-party service providers to better offer solutions and services that are more suited to client desires."

On the other hand, concerns about consumer data privacy and security are always at the center of conversations about Open Finance, which allows banks and other businesses to exchange customer data with third-party suppliers. In this environment, Veloso stressed the importance of only sharing information with consumers' consent, as they are the owners of their personal and financial data.

Commissioner Raymund Liboro of the National Privacy Commission (NPC) has remarked that protecting consumers' data privacy may enhance their faith in firms. "Essentially, our role is to promote trust," he said, underlining the need for SIM card registration. "This will go a long way toward guaranteeing that digital finance, open finance, and banking are all more reliant on trusted tools and implements," he says. He emphasized that if businesses can earn people's trust, they will prosper, resulting in more jobs and opportunities and a more robust market. According to Dan Wolbert, VISA Philippines Country Manager, the critical areas of data that should receive the most attention are "transparency to the data they are sharing; transparency on who might use that data; [the] purposes that data may be used for and how long they may be used... and [that] they manage their data preference."

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On one of the panels, Todd Schweitzer, CEO of Brankas, stated that "technology, products, and rules enable clients to securely access financial services from third party providers." They have discretion over how and where they access it, as well as who they share their data with." Thanks to the decoupling of the financial service provider from its access point, financial services can combine their goods to become building blocks for Open Finance.

Others talked about how they were able to expand into Open Banking. Noel Santiago, Chief Digital Officer of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), stated that their initial efforts to induce users to top up their toll fee wallets had "almost zero transaction volume back in 2018." Soon after, the pandemic-driven uptake topped 300,000 transactions per day, resulting in a customer-beneficial synergistic system with banks.

According to Bayad Center President Lawrence Ferrer, the epidemic was a game-changer in its continuous integration of Open Finance with its payment systems. "There was a big push to go online," he explained. The development of numerous digital solutions for our customers was one of the things for which I was personally accountable." Their research found that bill payment and loan repayment were the top priorities for their clientele.

The Open Finance Oversight Committee (OFOC), managed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and funded by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), can accelerate Open Finance development. "The transition group," according to Atty. Mark Gorriceta of Gorriceta Law "would lead the implementation of initiatory and transition-related measures relevant to the formation of a formal organization." "It will also develop policy in the area of open finance."

According to Schweitzer, the Philippines is pursuing a "balanced approach to Open Finance," with the BSP, through the OFOC, "offering advice on core technical, operational parameters" while remaining technology agnostic to allow for innovation. "Promote financial institutions and technology service providers to be ahead of the curve" by participating in industry pilots and sandboxes, he stated.

"Ultimately, Open Finance and its technologies are about providing additional services to clients, particularly those who have limited access to them," he said, looking forward to the collaboration among leaders that can arise as the new year approaches. This country's prosperity can and will be aided by financial inclusion."

Fintech, described by Amor Maclang, Digital Pilipinas Convenor and FPH Executive Director, as "not a vertical but a horizontal that powers various businesses while building a smooth interface across sectors," lays the groundwork for Open Finance transformation. The Digital Pilipinas movement encourages the use of technology to address major national issues and raise living conditions in the Philippines.

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