The Philippines is a country with a vibrant cooperative sector, with more than 28,000 registered cooperatives serving over 14 million members across various industries and sectors. Cooperatives play a vital role in promoting social and economic development, especially for the marginalized and underserved segments of the population. However, cooperatives also face many challenges, such as limited access to financial services, high transaction costs, and low digital literacy.
One of the solutions that can help cooperatives overcome these challenges is QR Ph, the national QR code standard that allows transfers between participating banks and e-wallets in the Philippines.
QR Ph, as the national QR code standard in the Philippines, was initially approved by the Philippine Payments Management, Inc. (PPMI) in 2019. However, in accordance with BSP Circular 1055, all participating payment service providers (PSPs), including banks and non-bank electronic money issuers (EMIs), are required to adopt QR Ph. This means that QR Ph is now a mandatory requirement for all PSPs in the Philippines, and does not require separate approval from PPMI.
The BSP is the central bank and monetary authority of the Philippines, and is responsible for regulating and supervising the Philippine financial system. PPMI is a non-profit organization that was established by the BSP to promote and develop the use of electronic payments in the Philippines.
The BSP's requirement for all PSPs to adopt QR Ph is intended to foster payment system efficiency and promote interoperability among different payment systems. It is also aimed at protecting consumers from fraud and other risks associated with electronic payments.
QR Ph is based on the EMVCo standard, a global standard for secure payments. QR Ph enables a quick, low-cost and safe method to pay, transfer to and receive funds from other bank and e-money accounts in the Philippines.
QR Ph has many benefits for cooperatives and their members, such as:
- Convenience. QR Ph allows users to scan a QR code using their smartphone camera to initiate a payment or transfer. This eliminates the need to enter account numbers or other details manually, reducing errors and delays.
- Affordability. QR Ph transactions are cheaper than other methods, such as card payments. The BSP has set a maximum fee of PHP 10 per transaction for QR Ph transfers, which is lower than the average fee of PHP 15 for InstaPay transfers or PHP 50 for PESONet transfers.
- Security. QR Ph transactions are encrypted and authenticated using digital signatures. Users can also set limits on the amount and frequency of transactions to prevent fraud or misuse.
- Inclusion. QR Ph can help cooperatives reach more members who may not have bank accounts or cards, but have access to mobile phones and e-wallets. QR Ph can also facilitate cross-border remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are members of cooperatives.
One of the cooperative pioneers in adopting QR Ph is CoopPay, a Lightning Network-powered wallet that will be launched by One Coop Tech in partnership with Pouch, a BSP-licensed operator of payment systems (OPS). CoopPay aims to provide cooperatives and their members with a fast, cheap and secure way to send and receive peso payments and bitcoin payments via the Lightning Network.
The Lightning Network is a “layer 2” payment protocol that enables instant and low-cost transactions among participating nodes on top of Bitcoin.
It features a peer-to-peer system for making micropayments of bitcoin through a network of bidirectional payment channels without delegating custody of funds.
One Cooperative Technology Services (OCTS) or One Coop Tech for short, led by its effervescent tandem of CEO Chris Marquez and COO Anna Marin, and guided by its "battle-hardened" board led by Fr. Anton Pascual, chair to some of the biggest primary and secondary cooperatives in the Philippines, and more popularly known as the head of the country's biggest Catholic NGO, Caritas Manila, is poised to take the game to the next level.
CoopPay will leverage the advantages of both QR Ph and the Lightning Network to offer cooperatives and their members a unique value proposition, such as:
- Innovation. CoopPay will be one of the first wallets in the Philippines and ASEAN to integrate QR Ph and the Lightning Network, giving cooperatives and their members access to cutting-edge technology that can enhance their financial capabilities.
- Interoperability. CoopPay will allow users to seamlessly switch between fiat (peso) and Bitcoin payments using QR Ph codes. Users can also send and receive Bitcoin payments across different wallets that support the Lightning Network protocol.
- Scalability. CoopPay will enable users to make high-volume and low-value transactions without congesting the Bitcoin network or paying high fees. This can benefit cooperatives that operate in sectors such as agriculture, retail or transportation.
- Sustainability. CoopPay will reduce the environmental impact of Bitcoin transactions by using the Lightning Network, which consumes less energy than on-chain transactions. This can align with the social and environmental goals of cooperatives.
CoopPay is expected to launch very soon, with an initial target market of 100 cooperatives and 100,000 members. CoopPay hopes to expand its reach to more cooperatives in the Philippines and beyond, especially in ASEAN countries where there is a growing demand for digital financial services.
CoopPay is an example of how cooperatives can leverage QR Ph and other emerging technologies to create a unified financial value chain that can benefit their members and communities.
By embracing innovation and collaboration, cooperatives can enhance their resilience and sustainability in the face of changing times. Undoubtedly, CoopPay will provide a best-practice model for cooperatives in the Philippines and the ASEAN.
QR Ph for CoopPay changes the game quicker.