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BSP recognizes ‘digital banks’ as a new bank category

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) policy-setting Monetary Board has approved the recognition of digital banks as a new bank category that is separate and distinct from the existing bank classifications. 

The BSP defines “digital bank'' as a bank that offers financial products and services that are processed end-to-end through a digital platform and/or electronic channels with no physical branches.

“Digital banks will play an important role in the digital financial ecosystem,” BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said.

“We see these banks as additional partners in further promoting market efficiencies and expanding access of Filipinos to a broad range of financial services, bringing us closer to the realization of our target that at least 50% of total retail payment transactions have shifted to digital, and 70% of adult Filipinos have transaction accounts by year 2023. This is seen to remove sticky points and leapfrog our financial inclusiveness agenda,” Diokno said.

The central bank chief said digital banking applicants are expected to have sound digital governance, robust, secure and resilient technology infrastructure, and effective data management strategy and practices.

The BSP also recognizes that digital banks are exposed to the same financial risks faced by conventional banks with potential elevated exposure to cybersecurity and money laundering risks.

As such, digital banks would be subject to the same prudential requirements applicable to other types of banks with recalibration to be commensurate to their business model and risk profile.

Digital banks are expected to maintain a principal place of business in the Philippines to house the offices of management and other support operations and serve as the main hub for customer concerns handling and point of contact for stakeholders, including the BSP and other regulators, according to the central bank.

Digital banks are also allowed to tap cash agents and other qualified service providers subject to existing regulations to complement the innovative delivery of financial services, it said.

“The Monetary Board may limit the number of digital banks that may be established considering the total number of applications received and the assessment of the overall banking situation,’ Diokno said.

“Essentially, the BSP is looking to attract players with strong value proposition, sufficient financial strength, technical expertise of management and effective risk management,” he said.

The new policy forms part of the BSP’s Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap, and enables players towards a more streamlined, technology-driven and inclusive financial ecosystem. -MDM, GMA News