Retirement plans go digital route in the Philippines

The Philippines central bank is set to launch a digital retirement and investment plan on September 8. The retirement account rolled out three years ago, with the digital launch coming as part of the efforts by the bank to digitalize the financial system.

In a press release, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) revealed that the launch will be led by the central bank Gov. Benjamin Diokno. It will be broadcast live via the bank’s Facebook page.

The Personal Equity and Retirement Account (PERA) is a voluntary account that allows any Filipino aged 18 and above to prepare for their eventual retirement. Launched in December 2016 by the BSP, it doesn’t rely on salary deductions—unlike existing products. Rather, it allows the citizens to invest voluntarily, with an annual cap of 100,000 peso ($2,061). For overseas workers, the annual cap is doubled to $4,120.

In launching PERA, the BSP aimed at encouraging Filipinos to invest in long-term retirement saving products.

With the digital launch, the regulator is seeking to make it even more convenient for the citizens to invest in their future.

Governor Diokno remarked, “The digital PERA will allow Filipinos to invest in PERA investment products anytime, anywhere using only their mobile phones and other devices. This is firmly in line with the BSP’s thrust to foster digitalization in the financial system and to bring the BSP closer to the people.”

The BSP has been pushing to digitize payments in the Southeast Asian nation for the past few years. Despite 60% of the population in the country using smartphones, the economy is still heavily reliant on cash transactions.

However, in the past five years, digital payments have seen a sharp and steady rise. Having accounted for just 1% of all payments in 2013, digital platforms now make up 20% of retail payments in the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has further shone a light into the importance of digital payments.

This trend could get a big boost if the BSP’s CBDC efforts yield positive results. As CoinGeek reported, the BSP recently commissioned a task group to explore the feasibility of a CBDC. The task group is expected to present its findings in September 2020.

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