The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) expressed its support for the digitalization of financial services in the Philippines during the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI) Summit on Microfinance Digitalization last March 28, 2023. Undersecretary Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, Undersecretary for ICT Industry Development, delivered a speech on behalf of the department and emphasized the importance of microfinance institutions in promoting financial inclusion and economic growth in the country.
The DICT airms to help create an environment that encourages investment, fosters innovation, and promotes the widespread adoption of digital technologies across all sectors of the economy. The department will work with stakeholders to strengthen microfinance institutions and their operations, promote financial inclusivity, and improve data management practices.
One of the measures the DICT can implement to support microfinance growth is its Innovation Support Program, which provides technical and financial assistance to startups and entrepreneurs developing digital solutions such as mobile banking and payment solutions. The Startup Grant Fund, which offers financial support to startup companies, can also be utilized by microfinance institutions for their research and development, marketing, and expansion efforts.
The department also recognizes the significance of the National ID system in addressing know-your-customer (KYC) and trust issues in microfinance. The National ID can streamline the KYC process, reduce fraud, and increase financial inclusion by providing a reliable and uniform identification system. Microfinance institutions can benefit from the eKYC.gov.ph government platform, which allows for electronic KYC verification of individuals for various financial transactions. The platform streamlines the KYC process and increases the efficiency of customer onboarding procedures while also supporting the digital transformation of microfinance institutions.
The DICT is also actively involved in drafting and negotiating international agreements for e-commerce, focusing on removing barriers to trade for software and hardware ICT products and building trust in e-commerce by strengthening privacy and cybersecurity measures.
Connectivity is essential to promote digital financial inclusivity, and the DICT can provide better access to broadband through initiatives such as the National Broadband Program and Broadband ng Masa. Microfinance institutions can leverage digital platforms and tools for transactions, payments, and loan processing, which can significantly reduce operational costs and improve efficiency.
In her speech, Undersecretary Batapa-Sigue emphasized that the digital transformation of the financial services sector is not only an opportunity but also a challenge that requires collaboration among stakeholders. The government, regulators, microfinance institutions, fintech companies, and technology service providers must work together to ensure that the digital solutions being adopted are secure, efficient, and accessible to all.
The DICT is fully committed to supporting the digitalization of financial services in the Philippines and looks forward to collaborating with all stakeholders to make this a reality.