How mobile technology revolutionizes the way local enterprises do business

Rica Delfinado -

In recent years, the Philippines has emerged as one of the economic bright spots in Asia. For the first time in its history, the Philippines managed to garner an investment grade status from the world’s leading credit rating agencies in 2013. And most recently, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services upgraded the country’s credit rating a notch above investment grade—the best grade the Philippines has ever received from any of the three major credit rating agencies.

Thanks in part to a vibrant small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, the economy grew by a strong 5.7 percent in the first three months of the year. SMEs account for about 30 percent of the country’s total economic output, playing a vital role in fueling economic growth. SMEs account for over 99 percent of total registered businesses and employing close to 70 percent of the country’s workforce. 

According to recent data from the Department of Trade and Industry, out of the 820,255 businesses which operated in the country, 816,759 were SMEs while only 3,496 were large enterprises.

Vibrant SME sector

A vibrant SME sector is a good indicator of a flourishing and growing economy. SMEs serve as valuable partners to large enterprises as suppliers and providers of support services. They also provide business opportunities to those who have the commitment, vision and passion to make their dreams a reality.

Take the cases of Julianne Bernardo of J.Cuppacakes and Mara Sebastian of Marsse Tropical Timber Plantations — two enterprising individuals who have the passion and the drive to make their businesses grow and succeed.

Bernardo, a culinary graduate from the College of Saint Benilde, set up J.Cuppacakes - a specialty bakeshop - to pursue her passion in baking. “What inspired me to pursue my business is to formalize my passion in baking. I started baking since 10 years old and pursued it in college,” said Ms. Bernardo.

With the full support of her parents, Bernardo first set up a shop in SM Megamall in 2012.  Inspired by the success of her Megamall store, Bernardo decided to open a second J.Cuppacakes branch in Eastwood.  In October last year, the young entrepreneur opened a third branch, her biggest so far at SM Jazz Residences in Makati.

Armed with the desire to create a marketing impact, Bernardo lets her creativity soar in designing and conceptualizing her stores and products.  “We want something homey and the store was really inspired by Rachel Aswell’s show, a show that I used to watch as a kid,’’ she said.

Exuding a shabby chic interior of sweet simple elegance, J.Cuppacakes easily became a must go-to place for young office workers and students looking for delicious homemade cupcakes as well as variety of reasonably priced gourmet ‘’home-cooked’’ meals.  

As Bernardo’s business gets the public’s attention and loyal patrons keep coming back for more of her baked goodies, J.Cuppacakes started to receive bulk orders from individual and corporate buyers.  Diners, who learned the new branch at the Jazz Residences also holds gatherings such as baby and bridal showers, birthdays and christening,   have started spreading the word  and before she knew it, Ms. Bernardo was  grappling from a rising customer  demand for more convenient  payment  options other than cash.

Just like other SMEs, J.Cuppacakes relies heavily on cash for its operations. Managing a tight cash flow to pay for supplies and services is part of the daily demand of managing a small enterprise. The idea of investing in a traditional credit card terminal has occurred to Bernardo, but because of the tedious bank application process as well as the high cost of its purchase or rental fee, the young entrepreneur held back from getting one.

Marsse Tropical Timber Plantations, a family-owned and operated mature tree farm in Pangasinan shares the same story.

The 22-year old tree plantation, which is now being managed by siblings Mario Sebastian Jr., Marco Sebastian and Mara Sebastian, only started  producing its sustainably made line of wooden products such as custom flooring and furniture, kitchen and home accessories in 2012, the farm’s 20th year which also marked the trees’ maturity for harvest.

A DENR-registered plantation, Marsse is also into providing sustainable source of hardwood trees, like Honduras mahogany, teak and gmelina, to local timbers.
Without a physical store to showcase its finished products, Marsse’s wood-based outputs normally find their way in bazaars, fairs and trade shows.

As Marsse’s finished products became a staple in the bazaar and trade fair circuits, clients started to grow in number and so are the demands for other payment options.

But because Marsse is mobile and always on the lookout for trade fairs and bazaars, having a permanent credit card terminal from a bank  with high purchase and/or rental fees is not ideal for them.

Adopting Globe charge in local business

Because SMEs face a lot of challenges, they need a trusted partner who can understand their needs especially in terms of information and communications technology (ICT) that delivers optimal and cost-efficient business solutions.

This is the reason why G-Xchange Inc., the operator of Globe’s flagship mobile money service GCash, introduced Globe Charge in the market.
Globe Charge enables small to medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) and professionals to have the most affordable and easiest way to accept credit card payments via the use of mobile devices.

"There are over 800,000 small to medium scale enterprises in the country.  We’ve seen this as an opportunity to enable SMEs to grow their businesses via Globe Charge, a Mobile Card Reader that enables any smartphone or tablet to accept credit card payments without the need for a traditional credit card terminal,“ said Franchette Chingcuanco-Cardona, marketing director of G-Xchange Inc.

“GCash always strives to provide value to our customers by identifying their needs. That is why we saw the potential of empowering business owners with Globe Charge. Now they don’t have to go through the long tedious processes and hassles of getting a traditional credit card terminal with banks which costs thousands of pesos” she added.

Globe Charge allows businesses to have more payment options as it accepts local and international MasterCard and Visa debit and credit payments, via smartphones and tablets. For small businesses or professionals like doctors and dentists who normally accept cash or check payments, having Globe Charge helps boost their sales as they can accept more customers, resulting to more sales and business.

With the ability to cater to over 10 million credit card owners nationwide, businesses and professionals will now be able to increase their sales per customer, with credit card owners being able to spend more as they are not constrained by insufficient cash-on-hand. Every customer interaction can become an actual transaction. With the acceptance of more customers, these businesses can grow their profits, and bring their businesses to better heights.  They can also receive the settlement fast and secure on their GCash wallet as early as the next banking day and enjoy better rates and deals compared to banks.

“We also made it so easy for merchants to be accredited and to start using Globe Charge,” Cardona said, adding “that they can just go to the Globe Store or our other dealers, purchase the device, register via the Globe Charge App, go through a brief process of checking, entailing the submission of business documents and ocular visits to the business premises. Accreditation can be realized within seven working days.”

There are no minimum monthly transactions and can work via WiFi or mobile data. As a plus, no data charges will apply for Globe and TM SIMs.

Globe Charge also offers a paperless system with on-screen signatures & email/SMS acknowledgement receipt which notifies customers of their transaction.

A perfect match

Having this new payment option, Bernardo saw a significant increase in bulk order transactions in her stores. “Ever since Globe Charge became available in our stores, customers who are buying by the box are happy to learn that we are now accepting credit card for payment. It gives them more freedom to add to their purchases even if they are low in cash,’’ Bernardo said. ‘’It is really for the convenience of our customers. We make it a point that we give them payment options for better service," she added.

Just like Bernardo, when Ms. Sebastian found out that there is now an easier and faster option to accept credit card payments, it was a big relief for the timber farm owner.  ‘’Globe Charge works with my existing mobile plan so I can use it whenever and wherever our selling event may be, without incurring incremental rental charges.
Plus Globe Charge’s service fee is at par or even less than those offered by various banks’ credit card facilities,’’ Sebastian said.

Aside from the affordability of the card reader, the next business day settlement option was a big plus for the young entrepreneurs who are always working on a tight cash flow.

Moreover, Sebastian said that Globe Charge easily boosted their sales in a number of ways.

“Having Globe Charge resulted in bigger sales for us.  During our bazaar this month, a customer asked us if there was an ATM nearby because she was already low in cash, yet she wanted to buy a number of items from us.  We said there was no ATM in the bazaar venue but we accept credit cards.  She was happy and we closed that sale.  In our bazaar last month, a customer noticed that we accepted credit cards after she had already finished paying cash for her purchases.  So she bought over P5, 000 more products using her Master Card,” Sebastian shared.

Not just an increase in sales, Sebastian says they’ve found a perfect match in Globe Charge.

“Aside from Globe Charge being very convenient and cost-effective, it is very earth-friendly because it is paperless. And since we are in the tree farming business, Globe Charge is a perfect match for us because being paperless is in line with our thrust of responsible wood consumption,” Sebastian said.

While having a vision and the will to be a step ahead of the competition, entrepreneurs like Bernardo and the Sebastians still need the right tools to help them grow their businesses.

"Globe Charge allows SMEs like us to manage our tight expenses better.  Instead of spending on the purchase or rental of bank credit card terminals, we can use our existing mobile data plan to accept credit card transactions with competitively low service fees.  Also, in a sales channel (bazaars, fairs, trade shows) where cash transactions is the norm, Globe Charge gives us an advantage by providing our customers with an alternative mode of payment.  Customers are even in awe of this new mobile payment facility--they love affixing their signature on our mobile phones and getting their transaction records through text or email,’’ said Sebastian.

Entrepreneurs like Julianne Bernardo and the Sebastians were able to take advantage of mobile commerce in the most affordable and easiest way through Globe Charge which became more than just an easy mobile payment solution for them. It has even spurred the growth of their businesses that allowed them to boost their profits and better provide for their own family and employees’ needs.

Globe Charge can be purchased as a stand-alone product priced at P999 in Globe Stores around Metro Manila. It can also be availed by subscribing to a Globe myBusiness plan with a monthly payment as low as P499 for a 30-month contract period, which comes with a smartphone bundled with a card reader, plus free surfing, calling and texting. To know more about the service, visit http://www.globe.com.ph/globecharge. For more information on GXI as well as other GCash products and services, visit www.globe.com.ph/gcash.

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