Philippine IT office has high hopes for e-payment system

The IT Office of the Department of Science and Technology has unveilled updates on some of its projects, including the much-awaited online payment system called 'PhPay'.

The Philippine government's IT unit hopes to make a few breakthroughs on modernizing public services before the year closes.

The Office of the Department of Science and Technology recently gave an update on some of its projects, including the much-awaited online payment system called "PhPay".

In a nutshell, the project will allow citizens and businesses to pay for government services more conveniently via e-payment (online), debit and credit cards (through ATM accounts), and mobile wallets (through texting or SMS).

Proponents say the electronic payment facility will not go through local banking consortiums or mobile payment operators.

Mobile payments and remittance is extremely popular in the archipelago, and many Filipinos use this facility to send and receive money. Since the service goes through the mobile network service providers, a small amount is charged for every transaction.

By design, the new electronic payment system is expected to make it easier for the public and private sectors to avail of and pay for various government services without wasting time on long queues.

According to the IT office, several government agencies, including the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Commission on Higher Education, and the Cooperative Development Authority, have signed up for a pilot test of PhPay.

The DTI is particularly notorious for long queues, because this is the main agency that issues local business permits. Considering that more than 99 percent of business in the Philippines is made up of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the job of the DTI is indeed critical.

The IT office further said the PhPay system will be rolled out fully in February next year, and that more than 40 agencies have signified interest to be onboard the system by the time it gets live.

The PhPay is just one of the components of an even bigger and a more ambitious plan to "interconnect" all of the government's agencies for easier delivery of public services, and hopefully join other countries that have modernized their governments.

It remains to be seen whether this new system will improve service delivery to the Filipinos, a concern that the citizens have been clamouring over for the longest time.

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