Fintech sector targets online retailers and sari-sari stores

Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - November 27, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  As Filipinos are transitioning into embracing a cashless economy, the financial technology (Fintech) sector aims to include the huge sari-sari store and home-based online sellers to the ecosystem.

Fintech advocate Amor Maclang said, in a webinar held recently, that stakeholders in the Philippines are championing the maturity for digital payments, that will not only serve the formal sector in the economy, but also includes the informal retail channels such as sari-sari stores, and those online sellers who just started businesses during the pandemic.

“We are following the footsteps of Singapore, as an incubator for technology and fintech. At the same time, tech is here to serve the underserved, the underbanked, and the undersheltered. Fintech has created opportunities for people on the spot,” said Maclang, who also founded the upcoming virtual World Fintech Festival (WFF) slated on December 7-11, 2020.

Fintech expert Sopnendu Mohanty, who is also the chief Fintech officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) foresees the Philippines’ fast adaption to cashless economy, saying,

“The Philippines is the country that I will never ignore. You have a remarkable GDP and a fairly young demographic. The true test of a company’s strength comes from a crisis---and the businesses in the Philippines have truly demonstrated this.”

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has also paved the way for the country to be more open when it comes to seamless and contactless payment behaviors. Its data shows a surge in the use of internet banking, mobile apps, and services like Instapay and PesoNet during the pandemic.

“More than four million accounts were opened during the first two months of the lockdown. We recently crafted a three-year roadmap which aims to develop an efficient, safe, and secure digital-payment ecosystem. We aim to shift 50 percent of retail payments to online, and ensure that 70 percent of adult Filipinos will have access to digital accounts,” said BSP director Melchor Plabasan.

Martha Sazon, President and CEO of Mynt, which manages the country’s leading mobile wallet app GCash among its innovations, revealed one of the trends observed during the lockdown.

“It is the younger generation that is most aware of their financial stability within this time. These things have pushed us to provide savings, credit, and insurance, all within GCash. To date, we have gained 26 million GCash customers, which is 10 times higher than our monthly users in 2017,” explained Sazon.

Sazon, who is also the chairperson of the EMoney Association of the Philippines, estimated that one trillion transactions will be made through GCash by the end of December 2020.

Fintech is the technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services. It is an emerging industry that uses technology to improve activities in finance.

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