By Denise A. Valdez, August 13 2018; Business World


Image Credit to Business World

A NATIONAL IDENTIFICATION (ID) system would allow more Filipinos to access financial services, according to FintechAlliance.PH Chairman Angelito “Lito” M. Villanueva.

“Millions of Filipinos are denied access to financial services because they unfortunately lack an identification card to show to banks. The recently signed Philippine Identification System Act effectively gives unbanked and uncarded Filipinos the legal recognition they need to be able to live fully as citizens such as having easier access to financial services,” Mr. Villanueva, managing director of FINTQnologies Corp. (FINTQ), was quoted as saying in the statement.

FinTechAlliance.PH is an association of digital finance companies such as Globe Telecom, Inc.’s Mynt, PayMaya, TrueMoney and coins.ph, among others.

Mr. Villanueva noted the digital ID system would be a “great equalizer to scale financial inclusion.” FINTQ, the financial technology arm of PLDT Inc.’s Voyager Innovations, has a digital lending platform called Lendr.

Citing the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ 2017 Financial Inclusion Survey, 22.6% or around 15.9 million adult Filipinos have formal accounts from banks and non-banks.

“According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, one of the factors for the decline in loan disbursements by formal financial institutions in 2017 was the ‘lack of necessary ID.’ With the national ID in place, it will now be easier for everyone to avail of financial products that can help improve their quality of life,” the FINTQ chief said.

In his speech before signing the PhilSys Act, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said one of the goals in implementing a national ID policy is strengthening financial inclusion and promoting the ease of doing business. With a national ID, the law says it intends to remove the need for another proof of identity in government and private transactions.

In assigning a “PhilSys number” for every individual, the national ID will collect necessary information per person such as full name, sex, blood type, place of birth, date of birth, and address. It will also gather biometrics information, namely a front facing photograph, full set of fingerprints and an iris scan.

The new policy will start full implementation next year, with the Philippine Statistics Authority as its implementing agency.

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) allayed concerns over the national ID, saying in a statement on Aug. 6 that the proper implementation of the law should not worry anyone.

“We have provided the implementing agency with advice and guidance to address the privacy risks identified at the early stage of project design. The public may rest assured that the NPC shall continuously press for the adoption of internationally accepted data protection and privacy standards in the implementation of the National ID,” it said.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez