An Alternative to Cash in the Philippines.

Economic Growth and Trade | Financial Services
Asia

E-PESO Activity

Project Dates: March 2015 - February 2021
The Philippines is shifting from a cash-based economy to an electronic one to create a more efficient and transparent financial system.

Ninety-nine percent of payments in the Philippines take place via cash or check. In a country made up of more than 7,000 islands where transporting cash is challenging, this system is not only inefficient but also less transparent and inclusive. Electronic payments (e-payments), although not as common in the Philippines, have many advantages over cash: They give more people greater access to financial services and encourage broader participation in the economy. To build a foundation for economic growth, the USAID E-PESO activity is increasing the adoption of e-payments by building a stronger economic infrastructure for cash alternatives.

Prior Initiatives

The E-PESO activity builds on the work of the Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS) projects, which ran from 1997 to 2012. MABS increased access to financial services in the Philippines by collaborating with banks to expand lending opportunities and introduce mobile-banking technologies.

Under MABS, more than 700 rural and other bank branches dispersed $900 million in microfinance loans. Twenty-three thousand farmers obtained more than 57,800 micro-agricultural loans totaling more than $19 million, and mobile-banking services reached more than 139,000 rural Filipinos.

Project Goals


  • Increase Filipinos’ access to financial services by promoting more e-payment transactions
  • Bring together businesses and the government to improve e-payment infrastructure
  • Strengthen the government’s ability to track financial transactions to improve transparency and accountability
  • Establish a national payment system to protect customers and ensure that transactions work across e-payment account types

Our Impact Relief Is Just an App Away in the Philippines

How does a country with a cash-based economy quickly provide subsidies during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown? In the Philippines, the government and the USAID E-PESO activity have collaborated with the private sector to create an app that provides fast financial relief to millions of people.

Ninety-nine percent of payments in the Philippines take place via cash or check. In a country made up of more than 7,000 islands where transporting cash is challenging, this system is not only inefficient but also less transparent and inclusive. Electronic payments (e-payments), although not as common in the Philippines, have many advantages over cash:…

Read Impact Story
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How do you design an app for COVID-19 financial relief?

Chemonics’ Vice Catudio explains how the USAID E-PESO activity collaborated with the Philippine government, private sector, and communities to develop an app for quick, contactless financial relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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