Filipino consumers are opting more for digital payments than hard cash to avoid physical contact due to concerns over COVID-19.

The Philippines’ largest provider of mobile money services, Globe Telecom’s GCash, said the number of its registered users rose to 150% in a month from mid-March. The total amount of payments made on its platform in May soared eightfold compared to a year ago.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the country lagged behind in adopting digital or online transactions.

According to the Better Than Cash Alliance’s published report in December, the country’s central bank had set a target of raising the share of electronic payments to 50% by volumes on 2023 though it only reached 10% by volume in 2018.

“The Philippines was a global early-mover in digital payments, with the launch of mobile money in 2001…(but) the path to widespread adoption and usage has not been straightforward,” stated on the report.

The COVID-19 crisis, however, became the leverage for electronic payment, in which the lockdown imposed in mid-March made it difficult for consumers to make transactions at bank or store counters.

As the lockdown loosened in different cities, the situation triggered a massive shift toward digital money with the notion that the use of physical bills and coins can pass and spread the coronavirus.

Both Globe’s GCash and PLDT’s PayMaya play a crucial role in bringing a cashless way of payment on the table in the post-COVID-19 era as the country remained behind in embracing digital cash.

The two services focus on areas where demand for digital currency is expected to develop rapidly. Such areas include the government, wherein the companies help them equip a cashless-driven service.

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