FINTECH AGREEMENT. Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Ambassador of India to the Philippines Shambhu Santha Kumaran signed an agreement to enhance cooperation financial technology on Monday (June 19, 2023). A joint working group will be formed to facilitate inter-governmental discussions. (Photo from DOF)

MANILA – The Philippines and India signed on Monday a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enhance cooperation in the field of financial technology (fintech).

In a statement, the Department of Finance (DOF) said the MOU was signed by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Ambassador of India to the Philippines Shambhu Santha Kumaran at the DOF office in Manila.

“Today’s event marks an important milestone in the bilateral relations of India and the Philippines —just in time for the upcoming 5th Philippines-India Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation set to take place in New Delhi, India a few days from now,” Diokno said.

The MOU directs the constitution of a Joint Working Group (JWG) on fintech with the Government of the Republic of India’s (GOI) Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance.

The creation of a JWG is expected to facilitate inter-governmental discussions on the exchange of best practices to improve policies and regulatory connection, promote cooperation in the development of fintech solutions for business or financial sectors, and develop international standards by encouraging the creation of an international version of Application Programming Interfaces (API).

“On the one hand, India is a rising economic powerhouse, with a forte in digital technology. On the other, the Philippines hosts a young and tech-savvy talent pool that can provide the intellectual capital needed to succeed in the digital economy. Clearly, the possibilities between our two economies are boundless,” Diokno said.

The JWG will be co-chaired by the DOF and the DEA.

Other members include the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Insurance Commission (IC), and Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Members from the GOI, meanwhile, include the DEA, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTy), Union Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI), Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), Ministry of External Affairs, International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA), and Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In).

The Ambassador of the Philippines to India and the Ambassador of India to the Philippines will serve as points of contact and participate in the JWG meetings.

“In India, for the past seven years, we have seen an exponential growth in digital payments. Currently, we are at the level of a hundred billion digital payments a year, with the flagship UPI itself –unified payments interface – itself becoming one of the primary drivers of a cashless, digitalized economy,” Ambassador Kumaran said.

The Philippine government is ramping up efforts to increase investments in advanced technology.

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives approved House Bill (HB) No. 7327 or the E-Governance bill which is one of the priorities of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s administration.

The bill promotes the use of information and communications technology (ICT) within and across government agencies to provide faster and improved delivery of services to the public.

The bill also aims to promote greater financial inclusion across the country.

The DOF said the economic liberalization bills, which include the Public Service Act (PSA), Foreign Investments Act (FIA), and Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA), also aims to open up the Philippines in investments in advanced technology. (PNA)