BSP gives banks until June 2020 to use standard QR codes for e-payments

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The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas wants banks and other payment platforms to use a uniform design for quick response (QR) codes by next year to make cashless transactions more convenient.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 17) — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has required banks and other financial players to use uniform quick response (QR) code formats for e-payments by June next year.

In a statement, the central bank said it has approved a new rule adopting a national QR code standard that will ensure "interoperability" of payments made through this platform. This would ensure that a customer paying at the check-out counter in one store can expect the same process when settling dues in another.

Payments via QR technology involve scanning a printed black-and-white image with a smartphone camera to facilitate fund transfers and online payments for goods and services. The BSP said this has emerged as the "most convenient and cost-efficient means" to move money.

"As such, the use of this code minimizes encoding errors. Moreover, it is faster and easier to just scan the code than to dip or swipe a card, and sign a charge slip," the BSP said on Thursday. Businesses, especially small enterprises, will have an easier way to collect profits other than accepting cash or acquiring point-of-sale machines.

The policy mandates the private-sector led Philippine Payments Management, Inc. (PPMI) composed of banks and non-bank financial firms to identify the QR code standard which they will be using.

"To ensure that the country’s QR-enabled payment and financial services are interoperable not only on domestic but also on a wider regional or global scope, the policy requires that the National QR Code Standard be aligned with the international standard," the BSP added.

Payment service providers — which are currently defined as banks and non-banks that facilitate payment transactions for business establishments — must prioritize the safety of payers and merchants "to build trust" in the payment system. They are also tasked to manage threats and vulnerabilities in using the technology, and set an "appropriate pricing mechanism" to attract more merchants to adopt the platform.

Once the PPMI agrees on a QR format, service providers must adopt the standard within 30 calendar days. The BSP gave payment providers until June 30, 2020 to "fully comply" with the uniform QR.

Some restaurants and stores have already been offering QR payments, but are using their own structures at the moment. The BSP is targeting to boost electronic payments to hit at least 20 percent of all transactions by next year.