RETAIL businesses at the Naga City People’s Mall, sari-sari stores in the barangays, and trimobiles operating in this city will soon be collecting payments from their customers or passengers thru real-time electronic fund transfer for safe and seamless transactions.
That is after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued an order to city and municipal government units across the country to adopt the Paleng-QR PH Program which aims to build the digital payment ecosystem in the country by promoting cashless transactions in public markets and local transportation, particularly tricycles.
LGU Naga, the first to come up with an ordinance in the entire Bicol Region to mandate the use of QR PH digital payment by target users, is now on the process of organizing a special “account opening day” in collaboration with participating financial service providers (FSPs).
Councilor Joselito S.A. Del Rosario, who introduced and sponsored the ordinance along with Councilor Jose B. Perez, chairman of the Sangguniang Panlungsod committee on investment, trade, and economic enterprises, said that the account opening day, which has yet to be scheduled in the following days, would ensure ease and convenience of account opening by would-be users and their clients.
QR (Quick Response) code printouts that can readily be displayed at the stores, terminals, and vehicles are among those to be processed during its conduct.
All business owners and trimobile (tricycle) operators who shall require QR PH as an alternative mode of payment shall be granted 5% discount on all fees, licenses, permits and/or business taxes in connection with the establishment, operation, and maintenance of the market stall or tricycle operation for the first 3 years of the implementation of the program; grant of 5% discount on all stall rental on the first year of adoption.
The LGU, however, may recall or withdraw such incentives and the covered merchants will be asked to return the equivalent amount discounted once the adoption of the program is discontinued.
City ordinance 2022-108, known as the Paleng-QR PH Program in Naga City, said that when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its height, the digitalization of payments proved to be effective in facilitating the continuation of business and government transactions amid mobility restrictions. The approach has enabled the government and private institutions to provide lifelines of support for the vulnerable sectors.
It also said that by being able to pay market purchases and local transport fares digitally, the public will realize the convenience and benefits of using a transaction account and other digital financial services.
Perez said there at least four financial service providers that signify their readiness to participate in the citywide implementation of the program.
Rhoel Guarin, BSP Area Director in Bicol who is also the head of the bank’s Operations Support Division, thanked the city government for its prompt response to the nationwide call on LGUs by the BSP and DLG to adopt the Paleng-QR PH program.
Among the salient provisions of the ordinance include:
The delivery by the city government of free Wi-Fi connectivity in public and community markets, and Trimobile Operators and Drivers Association terminals; the development of the LGU’s information, education and communication campaign to promote and sustain the objective of the Paleng-QR PH program. This will cover, among others, a financial literacy program using appropriate channels on key topics such as effective use of digital payments in business; financial services for micro and small enterprises; and financial consumer protection.
Together with the tasks to be performed by the Financial Service Providers (FSPs): Provide personnel, customer assistance booths, and other appropriate resources, including QR code printouts, deemed reasonable to ensure successful conduct of the LGU’s “account opening day,” and provide special offers for accounts opened under the Paleng-QR program such as free micro insurance coverage for a certain period (e.g., three months); t-shirts and other wearables; and special offer rebates for a limited period.
In addition, the covered merchants and local transportation shall open and maintain a QR-PH-ready transaction account. If the covered entity does not have an account, the entity commits to have an account 6 months after the effectivity of the ordinance; make QR PH payments available as a method of payment; participate in the information, financial literacy program and other relevant activities that will be facilitated by the LGU and FSPs; and explicitly their QR PH code in their store or vehicle where is it visible to customers and passengers.
(Jason B. Neola, CEPPIO.)