190701 national id
A picture of the Philippine National ID circulating on social media. Image Credit: Social media / For illustrative purposes only

The Philippines will start next week a 27.8 billion-peso ($575 million) project to give national identification cards to millions to boost financial inclusion, even with the region's worst coronavirus outbreak.

The government targets to register 9 million heads of low-income families before year-end, with the goal of giving national IDs to all Filipinos by 2022, Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said at a virtual briefing on Friday. Data gatherers wearing masks and face shields will be deployed to 32 provinces with low risk of infections starting Oct. 12.

The government expects the national ID project to help achieve the central bank's goal for 70% of adults to have bank accounts by 2023, up from 29% last year. Other Asian nations like India have also embarked on similar efforts to drive the use of banking services and aid in the delivery of social services.