Financial technology is here to stay 

At the launch of the first Digital Financial Inclusion Awards (DFIA): Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed, Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip and MCPI chair Eduardo Jimenez.

Despite all the horror stories about how scam artists are using technology to rob people of their money by hacking into their bank accounts, people will have to learn how to use financial technology – wisely and securely to be sure. 

At the recent launch of the first Digital Financial Inclusion Awards (DFIA), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, Citi Philippines chief executive officer Aftab Ahmed and Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip all agreed that financial technology was the wave of the future.  

Dr. Alip, founder of the largest microfinance institute in the Philippines, the Center for Agriculture and RuralDevelopment Inc. Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD-MRI), said digital technology enabled Card to reach more people and serve its clients even during the worst part of the corona virus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. 

He said their Konek2Card allowed clients and staff to do bank transactions safely and conveniently. “It (technology) helped us grow the number of our clients even during the pandemic,” Alip said. 

DFIA is a joint undertaking of BSP, Citi Philippines and Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. (MCPI). 

Diokno said the launch of DFIA coincided with the launch of the new National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI) 2022-2028, which aims to  advance inclusive digital finance and the financing access of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 

He reiterated the central bank’s commitment to financial inclusion. One of the initiatives under this campaign was “bringing digital payments closer to the people by promoting its use in the most common transaction points for most Filipinos—the community markets and local transportation services such as tricycles”. 

In view of this, BSP, he said, supported the implementation of PhilSys,  the national digital ID system that would make it less costly for both a financial institution and consumer to transact business. 

The DFIA, which is funded by Citi Foundation, was expected to help encourage the digital shift and show that digital transformation was possible. It was expected to continue raising awareness about the importance of microentrepreneurship and microfinance in supporting the financial inclusion and economic empowerment of low-income individuals. 

Ahmad called DFIA an “important initiative” and an evolution of the Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards (CMA), both allowing the Citi Foundation “to continue raising awareness about the importance of micro-entrepreneurship”.  

He said Citi was committed to enabling growth and economic progress by investing in efforts that led to greater financial inclusion and economically vibrant and resilient communities. DFIA supported the financial inclusion objectives of the government and would empower low-income individuals to become financially independent. 

  Ahmed expected the use of digital payments to continue to increase as both consumers and businesses adapt to online platforms. 

   

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