BSP beefs up anti-counterfeiting efforts

Maris Federez   •   November 2, 2021   •   319

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced its continuing enforcement operations against counterfeiting activities.

In the first nine months of 2021 alone, the central bank’s anti-counterfeiting operations led to the seizure of more than 500 pieces of counterfeit Philippine banknotes with a notional value of more than P480,000.

The BSP’s Payments and Currency Investigation Group said the enforcement operations also resulted in the arrest and filing of criminal cases against 16 suspects, 14 of which were members of crime syndicates.

In addition to the seized counterfeit Philippine currency, the BSP also seized more than 200 pieces of counterfeit foreign banknotes during the said period.

“The BSP continues to protect and promote the integrity of the Philippine banknotes and coins through sustained efforts against the counterfeiting of currency,” the central bank said.

Between 2010 and 2021, the BSP has conducted more than 100 enforcement operations that led to the apprehension of 176 suspects and the confiscation of more than 12,000 pieces of counterfeit Philippine banknotes with a notional value of Php 7.69 million.

The operations also led to the seizure of more than 14,300 pieces of counterfeit US dollar bills with a notional value of USD 92.59 million, along with a number of other foreign currencies.

The BSP’s anti-counterfeiting operations also resulted in the filing of 161 criminal cases in court. Out of these cases, 63 have been concluded while 98 are still ongoing.

Of the concluded cases, 62 resulted in a conviction. This translates to a 98.41 percent conviction rate from 2010 to 2021.

Under Republic Act No. 10951, counterfeiters of Philippine currency are subject to the penalty of imprisonment of at least 12 years and 1 day and a fine not exceeding two million pesos.

The BSP ensures that the New Generation Currency banknote series currently in circulation has advanced security features that help deter counterfeiting.

The BSP encourages the public to report any information on currency counterfeiting to the nearest police station or law enforcement agency, for appropriate action, or contact the BSP Payments and Currency Management Sector for assistance at Tel. Nos. (02) 8988-4833 and (02) 8926-5092. —/mbmf

Bangko Sentral eyes offline digital payments to boost financial inclusion in off-grid areas

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Tuesday said it is eyeing offline digital payment solutions to enable transactions without the need for internet connection.

In a statement, the BSP said this is part of an effort to boost financial inclusion in off-grid areas.

While an effective and reliable internet connectivity is a necessary condition for digital finance to flourish, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the central bank is also pursuing digital solutions to enable ‘offline payments.’

The BSP said it is working on this initiative under the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap (DPTR), which aims to convert 50 percent of the volume of retail payments into digital form.

The initiative also aims to onboard 70 percent of Filipino adults to the formal financial system by 2023.

The BSP earlier reported it has achieved its target of reaching 20 percent of digital payments volume by 2020. The increase was largely driven by high-frequency, low-value retail transactions through electronic fund transfers.

BSP urges public to use digital money for cash gifts

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Monday called on the public to use their digital wallets when sending cash gifts this holiday season.

​The BSP said that the use of digital money as an alternative means of giving cash gifts is “highly recommended to reduce physical contact and virus transmission between giver and receiver” amid the persisting threat of COVID-19.

“Digital wallets offer a safe, secure, efficient, and convenient way to transfer funds to family and friends during this season of giving,” BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a statement.

The central bank said the widespread use of digital money is in line with its digital payment transformation and financial inclusion goals.

Citing latest reports, the BSP said it has achieved its target of reaching 20 percent of digital payments volume by 2020, largely driven by high-frequency, low-value retail transactions through electronic fund transfers.

“The BSP remains committed to catalyzing digitalization of payments and digitizing at least half of all transactions by 2023 in its push to promote a more inclusive and tech savvy Philippine economy,” it said.

Nat’l ID sufficient proof of identity in opening bank accounts – BSP

Robie de Guzman   •   November 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Tuesday reminded financial institutions that the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) or national ID is considered sufficient proof of identity to open a bank account.

In a statement, the BSP said the BSP-Supervised Financial Institutions (BSFI) should accept the national ID card, in both physical and mobile formats, as sufficient proof of identity without the need for another ID.

The central bank’s call is in support of the Memorandum No. M-2021-057 issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which reminds all government and private entities to accept the PhilID card as sufficient proof of identity, subject to proper authentication. This is in line with Republic Act No. 11055 or the PhilSys Act.

“PhilSys will help more Filipinos, especially the marginalized and low-income, to begin saving money in banks and other BSFIs,” said BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno.

Diokno added that the national ID system will support the wide scale opening of transaction accounts, particularly the Basic Deposit Account, which is designed to meet the needs of the unbanked.

The PhilSys will offer online and offline methods for identity authentication through the PhilID physical security features, QR code digital verification, biometric verification, and SMS one-time password (OTP).

These features will facilitate stronger and more secure methods of identity verification than traditional methods such as manual matching of handwritten signature against specimen.

The BSP likewise directed BSFIs to include the PhilID in their list of valid IDs.

“As a foundational digital ID system, the BSP considers the PhilSys as a gamechanger for financial inclusion, a state wherein there is effective access to a wide range of financial services for all,” it said.

“Aside from contributing to the massive opening of transaction accounts, PhilSys is expected to transform how services are delivered and accessed in the Philippines, accelerating the country’s transition to a digital economy,” it added.

As of October 21, 2021, the number of transaction accounts opened due to the co-location of PSA registration sites and Land Bank account opening facilities totaled 5,922,304 accounts, the BSP said.

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