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June 24, 2024

Cash agent registry launched to boost financial inclusion

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has tied up with the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) jointly launched the agent registry for cash agents, a project that seeks to reinforce the BSP’s twin goals of financial inclusion and payments digitalization.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the registry is a regulatory technology tool that will strengthen the BSP’s supervision of cash agents.

“The registry will facilitate standardized and timely collection of agent data and create a public database that will help customers locate the nearest accredited agents and their available financial services,” the central bank governor said.

Cash agents are retail outlets, such as sari-sari stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, and pawnshops, that provide basic banking services such as cash deposits, cash withdrawals, balance inquiry, fund transfer, and bills payment.

As of 2020, there were more than 58,000 active cash agents in the country covering 85 percent of cities and municipalities reached by banking services.

Diokno said the BSP recognizes the role of cash agents in promoting greater financial inclusion.

“They expand the reach of financial services for the unbanked and underserved population, especially in remote areas in the countryside. Besides providing easy and convenient access, cash agents are also low-cost and less intimidating access points than automated teller machines,” he added.

The AFI is a global network of policymakers composed of 101 member institutions from 89 countries, which aims to empower its members to advance the financial inclusion agenda through the formulation, implementation, and global advocacy of sustainable and inclusive policies.

Under its Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap, the central bank aims to increase the number of Filipino adults with bank accounts to 70 percent and convert 50 percent of total retail payments to digital channels by next year.