THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Thursday that the number of active cash agents grew strongly in 2020 amid the pandemic.
In a virtual briefing, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said cash agents in the Philippines grew by 242 percent from 17,000 in 2019 to more than 58,000 in 2020.
Cash agents are retail outlets like small shops, convenience stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, and pawnshops contracted by banks that offer basic banking services and perform real-time financial transactions for customers in far-flung areas.
They can accept and disburse cash on behalf of a bank, allowing customers to perform self-service transactions, including deposits and withdrawals, balance inquiries, fund transfers, and bills payments.
“Cash agents helped increase the percentage of cities and municipalities reached by banking services from 70 percent to 85 percent,” Diokno said.
“They play a significant role in financial inclusion by expanding the reach of financial services beyond bank branches and transitioning the unbanked population from cash to digital transactions,” he added.
In line with this, the BSP chief said they plan to develop an Agent Registry which is a regulatory technology tool that will strengthen its supervision of cash agents.
The registry is expected to facilitate the standardized collection of agent data and create a public database to help customers locate the nearest accredited agents and their allowed services.
In a memorandum issued last May, the BSP reminded banks with cash agent operations to observe prevailing standards on disclosure, transparency, and effective recourse to protect consumers when transacting with cash agents.