Adapting to the new normal: Fintech is bedrock of digital services as PH fights pandemic


The pandemic has changed the way Filipinos deal with everyday life. Today, services are now delivered through digital platforms, and adjusting to this new reality may come in with some form of learning curves.

Now, Filipinos are advised to leverage digital technologies and smartphone apps in conducting day-to-day activities to reduce their risks of contracting COVID-19 outside their homes. For most, working from home has become the new normal, and social interaction is now being done through social networking sites and messaging apps.

Some Filipinos also have turned to online marketplaces for their groceries, medicines, and other supplies, and some have also maximized the use of food delivery apps and ordering services to minimize their time outside of their homes.

Suddenly, many parts of the Philippines have become powered by the digital realm, and payments are now being coursed through digital finance. Today, more and more Filipinos are embracing digital finance, seeing the value that it brings versus conventional cash.

GCash, the leading mobile wallet in the Philippines, alone saw app installations grow by 2x during the community quarantine, while registrations rose by 2.5x, and app referrals increased by another 2x.

“In a world where digital is the new normal, financial technology should be considered the bedrock of digital services. Through digital finance, people have the power to pay for goods and services without the need for physical cash. Aside from the convenience, it is also less risky than cash handling, more efficient than physical payments, and is also very transparent,” GCash Chief Technology and Operations Officer Pebbles Sy said.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has been promoting the use of digital payments for almost a decade now, adopting several key policies and programs like the National Retail Payments System, and the creation of automated clearing houses for more seamless transactions.

This huge push for digital finance has given birth to a new working target of migrating cash transactions to non-cash. Now, the government aims to increase the share of cashless transactions to 30 percent of the total transaction from the original target of 20 percent.

GCash has been supportive of this shared goal, and has made it easier for Filipinos to adapt into the new normal. Aside from the easier know-your-customer (KYC) process, GCash also offers Filipinos a convenient and very affordable way to transact with merchants both online and offline. Likewise, GCash users may use their digital wallets to pay for bills and government dues, as well as transfer money to almost anyone with a bank or non-bank account.

"We want our customers to be able to use GCash to its full potential. The app has multiple features that would help ease the burden of the average Filipino, from paying their utilities to sending money to their relatives in the provinces. Contactless payments are preferred by many merchants, especially during this time where long lines crowd banks and other shops," Sy said.

With GCash, a simple tap and click would suffice in accomplishing everyday tasks, making financial services more accessible to anyone with a smartphone. Through contactless payments, Filipinos are able to reduce exposure, preventing the spread of the virus from the exchange of money and the use of cards.

Partnering with over 70,000 merchants nationwide, going cashless is an option GCash easily offers, with over 20 million users availing of services like QR code payments, bills payments, and even credit services.

"During this difficult period, GCash stays true to its mission of staying connected. Our services are important, now more than ever, as the Filipino looks for ways to minimize exposure to the virus," Sy said.

Another service GCash has put in place during this crisis is the ability to help, offering a quick and easy way to donate to frontline workers and other marginalized sectors.

"We've also made it easier for the Filipino to help those who are most affected by this global health crisis. Truly, this day and age is now powered by the digital arena, and we all have to learn and adapt to it, as long as this new normal persists,” Sy said.    


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Gabriel

Introvert, wanderer, blogger, foodie, a hip-hop music writer, and one of the co-founders of a tech start-up company called GigsManila.