Central bank-led QR payment program seen to propel digital adoption in Davao, rest of Mindanao

BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe M. Medalla (in white-yellow shirt) looks on as Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Z. Duterte tries out the Paleng-QR code of a sweets and fruit vendor at the Bankerohan market. — BW FILE PHOTO/MAYA M. PADILLO

BANKEROHAN, Davao City’s biggest public market, was more bustling than usual on Wednesday as various banks and mobile wallet firms set up temporary shops to assist vendors and consumers, as well as tricycle drivers, in going digital.  

The on-the-spot services were delivered in time for the launch of the government’s Paleng-QR program, which aims to build up the country’s digital payment ecosystem.  

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe M. Medalla, in his speech at the ceremony, said the introduction of the QR PH program in Davao City is seen as a launching pad for its adoption across the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.  

The central bank governor said he had conversations with market vendors, some of whom already recognize the benefits of digital payment platforms.   

“I talked to a vendor of suha (pomelo) who said ‘many tourists come to buy but not with cash, good I have G-Maya (referring to two leading money apps: GCash and Maya)’,” Mr. Medalla said in Filipino.    

He added that the vendor narrated how subscribing to the e-money firms have opened access to loans.  

“It solved not just the payment process but also access to credit,” he said. 

Bankerohan fruit vendor Grace Wenceslao said in an interview that digital payment systems have also taken away the hassle of scrambling for coins to give an exact change.  

“It’s easier for me and I don’t have to ask around and look for coins to give to the customers,” she said in the vernacular.  

The Davao City council, meanwhile, approved on Tuesday an ordinance calling on all local business establishments to use the QR PH, which serves as the national standard as it can accept payments from any e-wallet or bank.   

“This will surely help the MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises). The national government and the city government must do more projects to support the small entrepreneurs,” Councilor Bernard E. Al-ag, author of the ordinance, said during the launch. 

“By promoting the interoperable QR PH national standard codes, Paleng-QR PH creates a simple but more powerful digital finance experience at the local community level,” Orlando B. Vea, chief executive officer of Maya, the first digital financial services platform to adopt QR Ph, said in a statement.   

“At Maya, we fully support Davao City’s vision to build a stronger digital ecosystem,” he said.  

The Paleng-QR is a joint program of the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Department of Interior and Local Government. It was first launched in Baguio City in northern Philippines in August. — Maya M. Padillo