MANILA – Malacañang expressed confidence on Tuesday that the government is ready to transform the Philippines into a “cashless” society, given that the country is still grappling with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement in reaction to a survey, which showed that the Philippines ranked sixth on the list of nations that will support a completely cashless society.

“So pang-anim nga po tayo sa digital ranking at iyan naman po’y patunay na we can readily make the shift to a cashless society dahil alam naman natin na ‘yung physical pera ang isa sa pinakamalakas na magkalat ng Covid virus (We ranked sixth in the digital ranking and that’s proof that we can readily make the shift to a cashless society because we are aware that handling banknotes is one of the reasons why Covid virus spread easily),” Roque said.

A survey conducted by MoneyTransfers.com, an international money transfer firm, found that India topped the list of 21 countries that favor a cashless society.

Following India (79 percent) were Malaysia (65 percent), United Arab Emirates (63 percent), Indonesia (63 percent), Vietnam (60 percent), Singapore (56 percent), Italy (52 percent), the Philippines (52 percent), Thailand (51 percent), and Taiwan (48 percent).

Roque said he could not tell as to when the Philippines could turn into a cashless society.

He, nevertheless, guaranteed that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is taking measures to pursue cashless transactions in the country.

“May mga hakbang na po na ginawa ang Bangko Sentral ‘no, unang-una, para huwag nang gumamit noong mga barya (Steps have been taken by the Bangko Sentral (so people) avoid using coins),” Roque said.

Some experts have warned that Covid-19 may remain infectious for weeks on banknotes.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno earlier said the Philippines is expected to be a “coinless society” by 2025, as the National Quick Response (QR) Code Standard, or QR PH, is seen to scale up contactless payments.

The BSP November 2019 adopted QR PH which seeks to push for a QR code standard for all digital transactions nationwide that will be adopted by all financial technology firms and banks.

The use of QR technology, according to a statement earlier issued by the BSP, has emerged as the “most expedient” means of payment since it entails code scanning that is faster and easier to do than bringing out a card, tapping and swiping it, and signing a charge slip in most cases.

The BSP’s goal is to do at least 50 percent of all financial transactions digitally by 2023. (PNA)