DIGITAL payment solutions are making strides in driving financial inclusion by providing unbanked Filipinos with opportunities to be part of an emerging cashless society. Digital payments, fueled by fintech innovations as well as continuously increasing mobile and Internet penetration, are transcending geographical limitations and other impediments that have long hindered better access to financial services and the conduct of cashless transactions.
According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) 2018 Financial Inclusion Dashboard, the number of Filipinos with active e-money wallets has reached up to five million at 132.7 percent growth rate and 28 million Filipinos now have prepaid cards linked to e-money, recording a 12.5 percent growth rate. Meanwhile, figures from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Asia/Pacific Financial Insights highlighted that e-wallet transactions in the Philippines in 2018 was worth over $700M—a figure estimated to grow up to $1.7T by 2021.
As digital payments offer alternative ways to do seamless and secure forms of electronic fund transfers and e-wallet disbursements, consumers across socioeconomic status are crossing over primarily attracted by the utility and convenience of going cash-free. The BSP’s goal to increase the adoption of digital payments from 1 percent in 2013 to 20 percent by 2020 is not too far away given that 2018 saw e-wallet users doubled in number compared to credit cardholders in the country.
Critical in the accelerated growth of digital payments is BSP’s sandbox approach that sets the stage for fintech innovations to emerge and thrive, as well as its leadership in multi-stakeholder collaborations to sustain a digital finance ecosystem that is responsive to the needs of Filipinos. For us at Cashalo, we created a digital-credit payment infrastructure powered by next-gen technology leveraging the powers of AI/machine learning, and anti-fraud algorithms.
Recently we introduced “Pay with Cashalo,” our cutting-edge e-commerce, digital credit payment solution that allows borrowers to purchase a product, ticket or items online from any one of our partner merchants and pay in installments without the need for credit card. This is a consumer-friendly payment alternative to cash and traditional credit.
The first partnership introduced under this digital credit solution is “Fly Now and Pay Later,” the first-ever air ticket financing in the country made possible with Cebu Pacific. With this, borrowers can now book Cebu Pacific domestic flights worth a maximum of P7,000 then pay later in installments of three or six months.
On the other hand, consumers can also now “Shop Now and Pay Later” under Pay with Cashalo. It’s the country’s first true ‘online-to-offline (O2O) basket financing’, designed to give underserved consumers the ability to finance a variety of products or a ‘basket’ of goods using digital credit in over 500 retail stores. In addition, you can get pre-approved for digital credit in the Cashalo app even before you visit a store, allowing you to better plan your purchases.
Topping our offerings under Pay with Cashalo is PayLater, a nano-financing solution that gives out loans for a maximum of PHP200 which you can use for purchases from various merchant partners.
Used responsibly, these digital credit payment solutions can help the unbanked and underserved better plan and manage their finances while affording them the capability to meet their current and emergency needs. Ultimately, we enable them to build financial identities by slowly introducing them to the many benefits of formal financial services.
However, these initiatives need to be reinforced by extensive financial education efforts to equip Filipinos with basic financial knowledge and decision-making skills. For this, we created our own national financial education initiative: “CashAcademy.”
This program works on developing a generation that is more financially knowledgeable, responsible, and empowered. Through this, we want to provide every Filipino with the necessary skills and services to improve their financial health and make them “Pera Experts”—financially aware and responsible.
With better financial knowledge, digital payments space can further scale and benefit more Filipinos, especially those who are most in need. Education can shed light on prevailing trust and security issues that impede adoption and slow down our transformation from a cash-heavy to cash-lite society.
But we get will there. The BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno predicts that in the next five years, 50 percent of all payment transactions will be done electronically. With private and government sectors collaborating, we can expect more exciting developments towards realizing a financially inclusive Philippines. (Author is General Manager of Cashalo)
Photo shows (L-R) AXA Philippines president and CEO Rahul Hora, GCash chief data officer Jean-Francois Darre, and MicroEnsure country manager Roger De Pedro.
FILIPINOS can now get insurance protection without having to talk to an agent or fill out long application forms. With their mobile phones, they can buy insurance coverage at their convenience.
AXA Philippines, one of the country’s leading insurance providers, has partnered with digital platforms GCash and MicroEnsure to provide better and more convenient access to insurance products to prospective customers with just a few taps on smartphones.
“With GCash Insure, where AXA is the underwriter, we are promoting financial inclusion by giving Filipinos access to affordable, high-quality, and reliable insurance products using only their mobile phones,” said AXA Philippines president and chief executive officer Rahul Hora.
The new GCash Insure is a comprehensive yet affordable product with life and personal accident insurance coverage of up to P200,000 and daily hospital income insurance up to P10,000. Powered by MicroEnsure and underwritten by AXA, GCash Insure lets GCash users choose from among bronze, silver, gold andplatinum benefit plans that can cover the buyer and other beneficiaries, such as family members of up to three persons.
“As you've seen over the past few years, GCash has transformed by providing a variety of accessible financial services to the people. GCash Insure completes the financial services suite accessible on GCash,” added GCash chief data officer Jean-Francois Darre.
Richard Leftley, CEO of MicroEnsure said “providing insurance to the mass market has many challenges that can only be overcome through partnerships and we are excited to be utilising our skills in creating, selling and servicing insurance for the mass market which we have gained over the last 17 years to drive this partnership forward.”
Through GCash Insure, getting insurance is made easier as payments for the monthly or annual premium,depending on the preferred and agreed upon payment frequency, will simply be deducted from the customer's GCash account.
ZYBI Tech Inc. in partnership with JCI (Junior Chambers International) Manila initiated a small conference at Bulwagang Reyes, CRSAFP in Camp Aguinaldo, which focused on financial literacy. The Conference was a roundtable meeting sponsored by Zybi Tech Inc., spearheaded by JCI Manila, and attended by 49 AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) men and women in uniform. During the discussions, attendees also shared their thoughts and opinions regarding the subject matter of financial management. The event took a little over two hours, started before 9:30 am with an opening prayer and ended at around 11:30am having snacks together while doing side by side tutorial on how to use the JuanCash mobile app.
1st Keynote Speaker was JCI Manila’s Vice Pres., Mark Lester Toribio talked about how to manage finances appropriately, focused on the do’s and don’ts in spending, also touched on the right mindset in planning ones financial hopes and goals to achieve. Mark was very logical and precise in providing systematic and practical ways on how to do financial planning.
The 2nd Keynote Speaker was Zybi Tech Inc.’s Product Manager, Carlo Vincent Mercado discussed everything there is to know about Zybi Tech’s product JuanCash, its services, and the benefits that the AFP members are enjoying due to the official partnership. The theme was comprehensive and revolved around JuanCash mobile app services like bills payment, mobile phone loading, cash in and cash out, virtual currency exchange, its growing partners, and scan-to-pay. Most importantly, the special privileges and perks that the AFP members are having the benefit of.
As JCI Manila’s unceasing advocacy to create positive change through developing opportunities, Zybi Tech compliments it by incorporating financial inclusion-- especially to those people and communities in the ‘last mile’ that are unbanked and underbanked. Creating an ecosystem for livelihood and commerce, serving all market segments from A to E.
You may visit their website www.zybitech.com and download their mobile app JuanCash through iOS or Android.
FILIPINO-led blockchain and digital asset platform, Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI) Ventures Inc., and Kakao Investment, virtual currency arm of Kakao Talk, Korea's largest messaging app, announced an investment from P.J. Lhuillier, Inc. (PJLI), parent company of Cebuana Lhuillier, the largest non-bank financial services provider in the Philippines with 2,500 branches nationwide. The company has invested an undisclosed amount to acquire a stake in the local fintech firm as part of its bid to enter the digital financial services market.
With the influx of foreign digital payment giants and local start-ups entering the Philippine fintech market, a digital transformation is a natural progression for Cebuana Lhuillier as they are already servicing millions of Filipinos with microloans, microinsurance, and local and international money transfers.
“This is another milestone in our continuing pursuit to expand our horizon and make a significant impact as we enter the digital arena. With our robust 2,500 branch network and strong partnerships with key financial players such as SCI and KaKao Talk in place, we are ready to take advantage of our unique ‘bricktech’ set-up and make our mark in this space,” said Jean Henri Lhuillier, PJLI president and CEO.
This partnership allows SCI to introduce cutting-edge blockchain solutions and services to Cebuana Lhuillier's 4,000 domestic partners and one million combined physical and virtual touchpoints worldwide, expanding the local market for digital assets.
"We’re happy to be backed by an institution like Cebuana Lhuillier. We are well-aligned in our goal to provide better inclusive financial services in the Philippines. Their extensive brick-and-mortar network is unmatched in reach and efficiency, and going digital is a natural step forward for the company. SCI is excited to be part of this journey as a technology partner,” said Miguel Cuneta, SCI Ventures Inc. CCO and co-founder.
As more and more Filipinos go digital, a trusted local name like Cebuana Lhuillier can become the preferred digital financial services provider for the 80 million Filipinos who are not serviced by the banking industry. Currently, Cebuana Lhuillier has 11 million active users in their loyalty card program and serves over 25 million Filipinos in the country and abroad.
Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI) Ventures Inc. is a financial technology start-up company building blockchain services and products for the purpose of financial inclusion in the Philippines. SCI’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Rebittance Inc., is one of the first Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)-registered Virtual Currency Exchanges in the Philippines. The company venture is backed by South Korean tech giant Kakao Talk. Kakao Talk is an instant messaging app used by 93% of smartphone owners in South Korea with over 50 million active users.
P.J. Lhuillier, Inc. (PJLI) is the proud parent company of Cebuana Lhuillier, one of the leading and largest non-bank financial services providers in the Philippines with 2,500 branches and over 11 million customers nationwide. PJLI attributes its dominance in the industry to integrity and heartfelt service, robust network of local and international industry partners, and steadfast commitment to nurture market-leading businesses for its growing market.
The Philippines’ largest microfinancial services provider, Cebuana Lhuillier, led by president and CEO Jean Henri Lhuillier (second from left) enters into a joint venture with the country’s pioneering blockchain venture builder, SCI Ventures, Inc., headed by CEO and co-founder John Bailon (third from left). Joining them are Cebuana Lhuillier Digital Sales Group Assistant Vice President James Robert D. Afzelius, and SCI Ventures, Inc. chief community officer and co-founder Miguel Cuneta.
USING blockchain technologies to build smart cities here and elsewhere is the objective of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Singapore-based BCB Blockchain and two leading technology business incubators—QBO Innovation Hub and Animo Labs.
The MOUC kicks off a collaboration to reach out and engage researchers, startups and community members to use the Building Cities Beyond (BCB) Blockchain platform and its technologies to create smart city projects and applications.
The project collaboration includes promotional activities, development of tech communities, mentorship, funding of projects and access to global markets across variety of sectors upon successful commercialization of the projects.
Competitions, hackathons and bug bounty programs will be launched in the final half of 2019 as part of the BCB education initiative. There will be prize money of up to $15K for winners participating in these events.
“We are glad to have a strong and rigorous collaboration with QBO and Animo Labs, tapping on their expertise, knowledge and experience to create the next wave of applications for the development of sustainable smart cities of the future,” Vanessa Koh, Co-CTO of BCB said.
BCB will work with these leading TBIs to contribute towards the breakthrough of blockchain technology as a strategic platform to accelerate the development of the next generation of smart city applications and projects in emerging countries, with the vision to build eco-friendly cities.
“We believe that blockchain will play a crucial role in the development of smart cities with increasing number of people living in urban areas. We are pleased to work closely with BCB and establishing their BCB Blockchain platform and technology in QBO hub to create the next generation of smart city applications,” Katrina Rausa Chan, Director of QBO Innovation Hubs said.
“It will be exciting to see the actual implementation of these smart city applications of tomorrow in the Philippines and appreciate BCB’s support to bring them to fruition,” Chan added.
“Through the mutual collaboration between Animo Labs and BCB, we hope that our technological expertise and access to a wide range of research institutions will help to build and promote the growth of blockchain and smart city projects, promoting innovation within the blockchain sphere for smart city solutions,” Federico C. Gonzalez, Executive Director of Animo Labs said.
“As part of a fast-growing community of tech-based start-ups, we are glad to offer our support to develop this blockchain ecosystem in the Philippines,” Jhaze Asuncion, Business Development Lead of UPSCALE Innovation Hub of The University of the Philippines (UP) said, commenting on the initiatives as well as the factors that make a startup successful locally.
PHOTO ABOVE. (From left to right) Vanessa Koh, Co-CTO, BCB; Federico C. Gonzalez, Executive Director of Animo Labs; Katrina Rausa Chan, Director of QBO Innovation Hubs; Douglas Gan Founder, BCB Blockchain; Jhaze Asuncion, Business Development Lead of UPSCALE Innovation Hub of the University of the Philippines.
Click on the link for more information on BCB Blockchain.