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Over 80M Filipinos now have a digital ID despite continuing delays

Over 80M Filipinos now have a digital ID despite continuing delays

Three years after launching its national digital ID project PhilSys, the Philippines has announced that it has registered more than 80 million people.

As of September 1st, the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) has covered about 87.5 percent of the population aged five years and above, totaling around 80.54 million Filipinos. Among them, around 78.12 million individuals have been issued a unique PhilSys Number (PSN), verifying their demographic and biometric information, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Tuesday.

While the numbers of digital ID registrations have been steadily rising, they are still behind schedule. At the time PhilSys was launched in 2020, the Philippine government promised that PhilSys Number registration and the issuance of the Philippine Identification (PhilID) would be completed by the end of 2022.

The efforts stalled as the Philippine Statistics Authority struggled to reach inhabitants living in certain far-flung areas and with low-quality equipment. Last week, the agency was blasted over the poor quality of biometric data it collected by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), which is in charge of creating PhilSys. The department warned that the issue has put the rollout of national IDs this year in jeopardy.

In its Tuesday statement, the agency promised that its digital ID system would ensure a “unified and secure approach to data management” that guarantees the quality of biometric information.

Despite the hurdles, the government has been urging the population to use their new IDs to open bank accounts, the state-controlled Philippine News Agency (PNA) reports.

Around 38 million PhilIDs have already been delivered while more than 41.6 million electronic versions of the ID have been downloaded as of August 25th. The Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank), a government-owned bank focused on serving farmers and fishermen, has seen a 170 percent annual increase in the number of basic deposit accounts (BDAs), according to central bank data.

“As more registered persons receive their PhilID and ePhilID, we encourage them to use it in their transactions with financial institutions to gain access to financial services and products that can open opportunities for them,” says Dennis Mapa, PSA Undersecretary and National Statistician.

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