Cashless transaction pushed to stem COVID-19 transmission

BAGUIO CITY Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, July 15, backed adoption of a cashless payment system in the city to curb spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

He said, “The reason why we are very aggressive in pursuing [digitalized financial transactions] is because… we found out that money became a vehicle for transmission [of the disease].”
“This”, he added, “is the reason why we have several cases wherein cashiers, taxi drivers, billing clerks were infected.”

In rolling out the program, the mayor rallied residents to embrace the contactless transaction system as a way of coping up with the lurking threat of the Coronavirus, which is the “new normal”.

The system was made possible through the combined efforts of the city and SquidPay Technology Inc. (SPTI), a payment solutions company headed by Enrico Tamayo, its Chief Operating Officer and President.
The city and SPTI inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), July 13. The deal is free of charge and does not impose fees for its transactions.

Convincing residents to subscribe by virtual business transactions, the mayor said, “Whether or not there will be a vaccine for the virus, we have to accept the new normal… Let’s think strategic, let’s think long-term”.
The system is part of the “Smart City” and the “Baguio in my Pocket” digital transformation project, which doubles as a contact tracing tool.

Under the MOA, SPTI will provide the city government and app subscribers access to payment collections services.

The city is given zero-percent transaction fees and zero upfront costs for the installation and implementation of the system.

The city government for its part will encourage cashless transactions through the SPTI’s system.
The system facilitates online and offline payments for fare in public conveyances, bills, e-commerce transactions, merchants’ payment services and e-loading through tap cards, near-field communication (NFC) or QR codes.
The program will first cover payment of fares.

SPTI Executive Officer Elmar Panganiban said engagements have begun with the transport sector since June 24 to familiarize operators and drivers with the system.

For those who will use tap cards for fare payments, the company plans to set up business centers or booths in strategic places in the city. A booth had been put up at City Hall, July 7.** Aileen P. Refuerzo