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BSP: No More Applications for Digital Banks After August 31

The moratorium will last for three years.
ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO
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No new applications for digital banking licenses will be accepted after August 31, 2021, the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas announced on Thursday (August 19). The moratorium will take effect over the next three years so the BSP can limit the existing digital banking players and adequately assess their impact on the local banking industry as whole. 

In news release, the BSP said it would process digital banking applications it will receive until the August 31 deadline on a first-come, first-served basis. The applications “will be assessed for completeness and sufficiency of documentation/information as well as compliance with the licensing criteria on the establishment of digital banks.”

If the applications are found to be deficient or do not meet the BSP’s qualification criteria, they will be returned and will not be subject to further processing. The regulator will no longer accept new or returned applications after August 31.

“The closure of the application window will allow the BSP to monitor the performance and impact of digital banks on the banking system and their contribution to the financial inclusion agenda,” said BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno. “We need to ensure that the business environment continues to allow healthy competition among banks enabling them to offer innovative and competitive financial products and services to their clients.” 

The BSP said it is currently processing two digital bank applications. 

Only five digital banks have so far been granted a license to operate in the country: UNObank, UnionDigital Bank, GoTyme, Overseas Filipino Bank Inc., and Tonik Bank.

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“As these tech-savvy, customer-centric players introduce innovations in the banking sector, we are confident that the BSP is on track to achieving its digitalization and financial inclusion goals,” Diokno said. 

The BSP issued guidelines for digital banks in December 2020. One of the most important requirements is that digital banks must have a minimum capitalization of P1 billion. 

Diokno has said that he wants half of all financial transactions to be done through digital platforms and that that 70 percent of Filipino adults should have access to a formal financial account by 2023.

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Paul John Caña
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