Learning about Electronic Money Issuers (EMI) in the Philippines

Electronic Money Issuer EMI Image Article Nicolas de Vega Law

Electronic Money Issuers (EMIs) are regulated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

BSP Moratorium on Issuance of EMI licenses for Non-Banks

Bad news folks. We hate to be the bearer of bad news but before you read any further, please know that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has imposed a two-year moratorium on the issuance of EMI licenses to non-banks starting 16 December 2021. However, should you wish to know more about EMIs, or you are not covered by the moratorium since you are a bank, then feel free to read on!

What is E-Money?

We are in the midst of a technological revolution. Part of this revolution is the proliferation of Electronic Money Issuers (EMI). Under Section 702 of the Manual of Regulations for Banks (MORB) issued by the BSP, e-money is defined as the monetary value, as represented by a claim on its issuer, that is:

a. electronically stored in an instrument or device;

b. issued against receipt of funds of an amount not lesser in value than the monetary value issued;

c. accepted as a means of payment by persons or entities other than the issuer;

d. withdrawable in cash or cash equivalent; and

e. issued in accordance with this Section.

It must be noted that electronic instruments or devices shall mean cash cards, e-wallets accessible via mobile phones or other access device, stored value cards, and other similar products.

How are EMIs Classified?

Pertinently, EMIs are classified as follows:

a. Banks (hereinafter called EMI-Bank);

b. NBFI supervised by the Bangko Sentral (hereinafter called EMI-NBFI); and

c. Non-bank institutions registered with the Bangko Sentral as a monetary transfer agent under Sec. 4511N of the MORNBFI (hereinafter called EMI-Others).

EMIs need to secure licenses from the BSP.

Now, hold your horses! You must first file an application to become an EMI with the BSP. It is only after BSP approval can you start operating as an EMI. The BSP is the government agency regulating EMIs in the Philippines.

Minimum Conditions to be Complied by EMIs

Enumerated below are the minimum conditions which an EMI must follow, as enunciated in Section 702 of the MORB:

a. E-money instrument issued shall be subject to aggregate monthly load limit of P100,000 unless a higher amount has been approved by the BSP. In case an EMI issues several e-money instruments to a person (e-money holder), the total amount loaded in all the e-money instruments shall be consolidated in determining compliance with the aggregate monthly load limit;

b. EMIs shall put in place a system to maintain accurate and complete record of e-money instruments issued, the identity of e-money holders, and the individual and consolidated balances thereof. The system must have the capability to monitor the movement of e-money transactions and link e-money instruments issued to common e-money holders. The susceptibility of a system to intentional or unintentional misreporting of transactions and balances shall be sufficient ground for imposition by the BSP of sanctions, as may be applicable.

c. E-money may only be redeemed at face value. It shall not earn interest nor rewards and other similar incentives convertible to cash, nor be purchased at a discount. E-money is not considered a deposit, hence, it is not insured with the PDIC.

d. EMIs shall ensure that e-money instruments clearly identify the issuer who is ultimately responsible to the e-money holders. This shall be communicated to the client who shall acknowledge the same in writing.

e. It is the responsibility of EMIs to ensure that their distributors/e-money agents comply with all applicable requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering Law, rules and regulations.

f. EMIs shall provide an acceptable redress mechanism to address the complaints of its customers.

g. EMIs shall disclose in writing and its customers shall signify agreement to the information embodied in Item “c” above upon their participation in the e-money system. In addition, it shall provide clear guidance in English and Filipino on consumers’ right of redemption, including conditions and fees for redemption, if any. Information on available redress procedures for complaints together with the address and contact information of the issuer shall also be provided.

h. Prior to the issuance of e-money, EMIs should ensure that the following minimum systems and controls are in place:

(1) Sound and prudent management, administrative and accounting procedures and adequate internal control mechanisms;

(2) Properly-designed computer systems which are thoroughly tested prior to implementation;

(3) Appropriate security policies and measures intended to safeguard the integrity, authenticity and confidentiality of data and operating processes;

(4) Adequate business continuity and disaster recovery plan; and

(5) Effective audit function to provide periodic review of the security control environment and critical systems.

i. EMIs shall provide the appropriate supervising department of the BSP quarterly statements containing, among others, information on investments, volume of transactions, total outstanding e-money balances, and liquid assets in such forms as may be prescribed later on.

j. EMIs shall notify the BSP in writing of any change or enhancement in the e-money facility thirty (30) days prior to implementation. If said change or enhancement requires prior BSP approval, the same shall be evaluated accordingly. Any change or enhancement that shall expand the scope or change the nature of the e-money instrument shall be subject to prior approval of the Deputy Governor of the appropriate sector of the BSP. These changes or enhancements may include the following:

(1) Additional capabilities of the e-money instrument/s, like access to new channels (e.g. inclusion of internet channel in addition to merchant Point of Sale terminals);

(2) Change in technology service providers and other major partners in the e-money business (excluding partner merchants), if any; and

(3) Other changes or enhancements.

There you have it! Now you know more on how EMIs should legally operate in the Philippines.


About Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices

If you  have issues in corporate law, commercial law, corporate or commercial litigation, or civil or other criminal law-related issues,  we can help you. Nicolas and de Vega Law Offices is a full-service law firm in the Philippines.  You may visit us at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines.  You may also call us at +632 84706126, +632 84706130, +632 84016392 or e-mail us at [email protected]. Visit our website https://ndvlaw.com.