His time at the helm of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) may have been cut short, but his legacy as an unwavering champion of financial inclusion through reforms and innovation will live on.
Nestor Espenilla Jr., or “Gov. Nesting” as he was fondly called, was a humble, down-to-earth public servant and well-loved banking leader who spent 38 years of his life in the BSP, tirelessly fighting the good fight. He believed that access to financial services is a basic right that every Filipino deserved, regardless of income, education, or background.
I first crossed paths with Gov. Nesting back in 2014 when I was at HSBC Philippines, and he was the Deputy Governor of the BSP’s Supervision and Examination Sector. His primary responsibility then was ensuring that financial institutions were offering products and services at a standard that protected and placed the interest of the public first.
He was the enforcer and his standards were very high. It showed in his leadership, and in the professionalism and integrity with which his team conducted every examination, all towards ensuring that we, as an industry, were doing our best to protect and serve the financial interest of Filipinos.
When he was appointed BSP Governor by President Duterte in 2017, he approached financial inclusion with the same passion and dedication as he approached his supervisory roles. What was most striking about Governor Nesting was how he navigated the often-conservative world of finance while still pushing boundaries: he embraced innovation, he ushered in the National Retail Payment System (NRPS), and, through policy reforms, he provided a channel that enabled fintech companies to provide innovative products and make financial services more accessible.
Under his leadership, and at a time when central banks all over the world were still scratching their heads when it came to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, the BSP took a firm stand on the revolutionary potential of virtual currencies to make lives better for Filipinos. The greatest thing about Gov Nesting was that knew how to be strict and uncompromising when standards needed to be upheld, but at the same time, he also knew how to be flexible and responsive in support of innovation.
While we have lost an irreplaceable champion of financial inclusion with Gov. Nesting’s passing, his legacy has ensured that Filipinos are not left behind in the technological revolution that is now happening as a result of his efforts.
Thank you Governor Nesting. Thank you for all that you’ve done for us Filipinos. You will be greatly missed.