Unlocking Transformation Through Connectivity
In a significant address during the OJK Seminar on Financial Inclusion in Jakarta, Indonesia, Quirino Governor and President of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), Dax Cua, highlighted the pivotal role that robust internet connectivity infrastructure plays in narrowing the financial gap between rural and urban areas.
Governor Cua asserted that for the true potential of digitalization to be realized and comprehensive financial inclusion to be achieved, both the national and local government entities must join forces to invest in critical infrastructure.
Collaborative Efforts for Inclusive Prosperity
“Efforts in financial technology, e-governance, digitalization, and streamlining business processes can only bear fruit if the populace is effectively connected,”
Governor Cua stated passionately.
Drawing attention to the transformative strides that the Philippines has made in financial inclusion, he pointed out that the commitment outlined in the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion serves as a foundation for broad-based growth and enhanced financial resilience.
Challenges on the Road to Inclusion
Yet, challenges persist. Despite remarkable progress, Governor Cua acknowledged that 253 cities and municipalities in the Philippines still lack access to banking services.
This lingering issue prompted him to applaud innovative initiatives, such as the Paleng-QR Ph program, a collaborative venture between the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), aimed at fortifying the nation’s digital payment ecosystem.
Pioneering Change Through Technology
Governor Cua also acknowledged the pivotal role played by financial technology companies in reshaping the traditional banking landscape. Nevertheless, he pinpointed the scarcity of connectivity infrastructure as the primary hurdle in achieving comprehensive financial inclusion.
This is compounded by the fact that approximately 32 percent of the Filipino population remains disconnected from the online realm, with this percentage rising substantially in remote areas. This reality, he stressed, necessitates a nationwide commitment to bolstering connectivity, as part of ULAP’s steadfast dedication to the cause.
Quirino Province: A Beacon of Progress
Highlighting the experience of his home province, Quirino, Governor Cua shared insights into an ongoing digital infrastructure project. This initiative seeks to provide free Wi-Fi access to communities, acting as a catalyst for the region’s socioeconomic advancement.
The localized endeavor stands as a testament to the potential of digital infrastructure in propelling regional development forward.
Pathways to a Digitally Empowered Future
Governor Cua also underscored the monumental potential of emerging technologies to revolutionize financial systems. He envisioned a future where nations like the Philippines can leapfrog into a digitalized era, empowered by technological innovation and inclusive policies.
Insights from Esteemed Panelists
The panel discussion was a tapestry woven with insights from esteemed and distinguished figures, featuring a lineup that included:
- Datuk Seri Mahadi Ngah, the 13th mayor of Kuala Lumpur.
- Sarjito, the deputy commissioner of Financial Services Market Conduct and Consumer Protection Supervision at OJK.
- Yunita Resmi Sari, the head of the MSME Development and Consumer Protection Department at Bank Indonesia.
- Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, the secretary general of United Cities and Local Governments Asia Pacific (UCLG-ASPAC).
These luminaries lent their perspectives to the discourse, enriching the exchange and underscoring the significance of collaborative efforts in fostering financial inclusion and connectivity.
A Resounding Call to Action
With distinguished luminaries such as Mahendra Siregar, the chairman of the Board of Commissioners at OJK, and Friderica Widyasari Dewi, the chief executive of Behavioral Supervisory of Financial Services Business, Education, and Consumer Protection at OJK, in attendance, Governor Cua’s resounding call for collaborative investment in connectivity infrastructure takes center stage.
This clarion call echoes the urgent need to bridge the financial divide and usher in an era of comprehensive financial inclusion.
Furthermore, as technology exerts its transformative influence on the global landscape, the paramount importance of internet connectivity remains crystal clear. It serves as the linchpin ensuring that every corner of the nation is an active participant in the march toward prosperity.
What is Financial Inclusion and How Does it Affect the Philippines?
Financial inclusion, a cornerstone of economic empowerment, refers to the universal availability of financial services for individuals and businesses, transcending income levels and geographical barriers.
In the dynamic context of the Philippines, this concept takes on a pivotal role in driving economic growth and alleviating poverty.
By offering avenues for savings, loans, investments, and overall financial enhancement, financial inclusion becomes a transformative force for the nation.
Empowering Small Businesses Through Accessible Credit
One of the prime avenues through which financial inclusion exerts its influence on the Philippines is by democratizing access to credit for small businesses.
Recognized as formidable contributors to the nation’s economic fabric, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) often face uphill battles when attempting to secure loans from traditional banks, hindered by stringent prerequisites and a lack of collateral.
However, innovative financial inclusion initiatives have charted a different course, introducing groundbreaking lending models. Emerging platforms employ data-driven algorithms for risk assessment, dismantling barriers and extending a lifeline to SMEs, bolstering their access to the vital funds they require.
Transforming Remittances: A Digital Dawn
An essential facet of financial inclusion in the Philippines comes to light in its profound impact on remittances. The nation witnesses an influx of remittances from its overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) every year.
However, these financial lifelines often carry weighty fees when routed through conventional channels. In this arena, the concept of financial inclusion emerges as a pivotal game-changer, unfurling its banner in support of revolutionary digital payment solutions and accessible mobile banking services.
These transformative tools possess a remarkable innate ability, enabling them to effortlessly transcend the traditionally imposing constraints of geographic distances. In doing so, they unfurl a new paradigm—a paradigm characterized by heightened financial accessibility and unparalleled convenience, empowering individuals like never before.
This far-reaching empowerment extends its influential grasp to touch the lives of the families of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). It endows them with a portal to swift and secure means, facilitating their access to a substantially larger portion of the remittances they’ve toiled for abroad. This newfound financial liberation sets in motion a series of effects that radiate far beyond individual households.
The positive reverberations, akin to a stone’s gentle ripple in a tranquil pond, find their way through communities, sparking a cascading effect. This effect, much like a series of falling dominoes, initiates a profound chain reaction—one that fundamentally reshapes the landscape of progress and prosperity, threading through the fabric of the nation.
A Tapestry of Economic Development
Woven intricately into the fabric of the Philippine economic landscape, financial inclusion emerges as a powerful catalyst for expansive and transformative change.
This resolute drive towards inclusive financial services not only reflects the present state but also heralds a future teeming with boundless possibilities—an embodiment of a nation poised for ascension. As the Philippines forges ahead on its journey of progress, the compass of financial inclusion steadfastly guides the trajectory.
This unyielding compass serves as the lodestar, steering the course toward a future defined by sustainable growth, shared prosperity, and equitable development.