Data drives GCash’s exponential user base growth

Leading mobile payment solution GCash experienced massive growth in its user base in recent years thanks to its strategic use of data. From 1.8 million users in 2016, the app has now grown to 20 million users.

Chris Manguera, Chief Marketing Officer and App Product Head of Mynt, which operates GCash, outlined how the platform realizes its fintech potential by leveraging customer insights drawn from data gathering and analytics.

At the Manila leg of the InsightX workshop series, organized by UXTesting and held at Acceler8 by UnionSPACE in Legazpi Village, Makati, Manguera presented how GCash’s integration into Facebook’s Messenger was born out of a surprising individual interview and the more extensive user research that followed.

He shared, “When I asked an interviewee to download GCash, he checked how much memory the app would take. We realized that because Filipinos had limited storage space on their phones, we might be missing out on users only because they couldn’t install our app.”

The insight prompted the search for an existing platform into which GCash could embed. Messenger had the right market, was easily accessible via mobile data, and happened to be looking for an MFS (mobile financial services) partner. In 6 months, GCash grew its Messenger user base from 0 to 2 million.

Manguera then narrated how stagnating growth prompted him to identify trends in how users were sending and receiving money via GCash. “There were three major patterns—one user sending to many users; one user sending to another; and many users sending to a single receiver.”

Apparently, GCash’s user base was segmented in three ways. The first included people using GCash for peer-to-peer money transfers, like splitting a restaurant bill or paying someone back for a movie ticket purchased online. The second comprised of users making domestic remittances, like an employer sending a kasambahay money or a city breadwinner remitting contributions to their relatives in the provinces. The third involved merchants accepting GCash as payment from multiple customers.

Manguera said such market insights opened the way for product enhancements and better targeting. “Start with something simple, like a (mobile) wallet. Start with something obvious that people are currently doing, like payments, and then offer more sophisticated, more complex services that are usually not accessible to the users.”

The simple strategy led to innovations like GCredit, a credit facility awarded to frequent users. “90 percent of Filipinos don’t have access to a credit score. What if we create our own credit score? A few months back, we launched what we call a GScore.”

To come up with the GScore, the team looks at the frequency of transactions, cash-in balances, the amounts remitted, and other in-app activity. The mobile platform then leverages its features and market insights to expand its services and make them available to the financially underserved.

Says Manguera, “Access comes with power—the power to choose better options, the power to choose something that fits and is better suited for my lifestyle… At the end of the day, we always want to provide a better life. A better option. A better alternative. That’s GCash, creating Finance For All.”


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