Pandemic highlights need for fintech revolution

The national health crisis caused by the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has highlighted the need for a financial technology (fintech) revolution in the Philippines, one where digital transactions become the new normal to keep people in their homes and help flatten the curve.

Digital finance is now emerging as the core of services today in the Philippines. Now, people are using their e-wallets to pay for bills, transact with merchants, send and receive money to and from loved ones and friends, and even donate to the ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

“In the age where almost everything is digital, it is important to have digital financial infrastructure in place to support digital services. This pandemic has accentuated the need for us to further develop and promote digital financial services to complement the initiatives to fight COVID-19,” GCash Chief Technology and Operations Officer Pebbles Sy said.

Even at its nascent stages, fintech has revolutionized the way Filipinos interact with traditional institutions, addressing the needs of millions of people who find it difficult to access the services in the formal financial economy.

As more and more businesses move online to breakeven, utilizing social media and food delivery apps to continue their services, people are now starting to see the huge benefits of cashless transactions.

Aside from convenience, mobile digital finance platforms like GCash offer users security, transparency, and efficiency in transacting with anyone with a bank or even a non-bank account. With GCash, people no longer need to worry about cash handling, which is now generally frowned upon as paper bills may harbor viruses and bacteria for long periods of time, and just enjoy the power of digital finance.

"With the pandemic, it's better to be safe, which is why we encourage the use of contactless payments. Digital payments help citizens follow the stay-at-home directive, as they are given an easier, more accessible option," Sy said.

Even local governments have encouraged their citizens to transact through digital wallets during the national health crisis. This call is also supported by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno, who said Filipinos should consider the use of e-payments for paying utilities, money transfers, and purchasing essential items.

With e-wallets, Filipinos no longer have to queue on ATM machines to cashout, they simply have to place their orders online, pay via QR or their digital in-app cards, and stay safe inside their homes.

Likewise, digital wallets like GCash are also better alternatives to credit cards, as plastic cards are also being handled by other people, which may also pose risks of viral contracting.

“Digital payments have helped ease the burden of Filipino consumers in the past, and now it has become more and more evident with this pandemic. The Philippines is a very mobile nation, and we at GCash are ready for a fintech revolution. We hope that more Filipinos will be able to see the huge advantage of GCash over conventional cash,” Sy said.

Another advantage of GCash versus cash is that it allows anyone with a smartphone to participate in the financial landscape. Aside from payments services, GCash offers other digital financial services such as credit, insurance, and even investments--services that were once exclusive to those who are banked.

“Trusting the fintech industry at this point has become a welcome step toward digital modernization, with the rapidly changing rules of our reality, the usage of e-payments in pursuit of a cash-lite economy is seen to provide support toward a much more inclusive financial system, where no Filipino is left behind, even in the middle of a pandemic,” Sy said.

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