As evidently shown in the past decade, Filipinos are eager to engage in the global digital economy. By statistics, the number of active internet users in the country more than tripled between 2010 and 2020. From 2012 to 2018, the share of the digital economy’s value to the GDP rose from 7% to 10%. Much recently, the last 2 years brought a massive volume of online businesses and digital transactions in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These milestones alone only mark the ramping up of the digital revolution in the Philippines. According to Singapore-based economic consultancy AlphaBeta, if the Philippines were to fully leverage digital technologies, then the value of its digital economy could rise up to 5 trillion pesos by 2030. Everyone in the country, alongside the continuous initiatives that the digital infrastructure Philippines developed, all play critical roles in realizing this objective.
To that end, this year is the best time to carry out projects that will empower every Filipino to take part in the digital economy and attract businesses to the country. These opportunities include the following:
Upgrading Digital Infrastructure
People are becoming more mindful of high-speed internet access in homes, offices, commercial establishments, and industrial facilities. This gives them the drive to look for internet service providers who can offer reliable services at affordable prices. This is the perfect opportunity for infrastructure developers to push for projects that will strengthen digital infrastructure in places needed the most. There is a demand for better internet access in the Philippines. The companies that are ready to answer this call will find a market supportive of their infrastructure projects and consumers who are willing to try their services. By bringing high-speed internet closer to the people, digital infrastructure developers can contribute to the country’s digitalization process and secure their place as primary service providers for communities, businesses, and individuals.
Strengthening IP Protection Laws
The use of digital technology has made it much easier to reproduce and share information. Unfortunately, while this capability presents many benefits, it’s also made it much easier for unauthorized entities to simply copy and distribute digital assets that are not theirs, to begin with. As a result, forward-looking companies, many of which are at the forefront of the digital revolution, are keen on protecting their intellectual property and ensuring that the countries that serve as their bases of operations are looking out for their right to reap the benefits of their creations.
In addition to amending IP laws and ensuring that their provisions are future-ready, it’s high time for the country to enforce policies that deter software and online piracy. It’s also essential to bring down the licensing and technology transfer barriers that prevent companies from pursuing innovation. Pushing for laws that protect the rights of digital asset creators and owners early on will make the Philippines a more attractive option for businesses that are paving the way for the digital revolution. This, in turn, will also enable more people to find employment in companies and sectors that contribute to the country’s digital economy.
Boosting the Use of e-Payments
While 41 percent of the Philippine population was online in 2015, only 1 percent of all payments made for retail purchases were completed electronically. Among the factors that contributed to the low rate of digital payment adoption are the high cost of banking, limited interbank transfer facilities, the low level of trust that merchants and consumers have in digital payment systems, and the fact that about 34 percent of the population at the time was unbanked. However, much has changed since then, especially after adopting the 2015 national retail payment system framework. The said framework established 2 clearing houses, PESONet and InstaPay, which addressed the interoperability issues in the retail payment space in the Philippines.
In 2020, about 10 percent of payments for retail purchases were done electronically. However, there’s still much room for fostering financial inclusion in the country. This can be done by ramping up the adoption of mobile payments, improving digital financial literacy among the population, and enabling people, businesses, and government agencies to participate in the digital economy.
While some people and businesses are actively participating and contributing to the digital economy, the opportunity is still out of reach for many others. Much still needs to be done. By investing in digital infrastructure, pushing for policies that will make the country more prepared for the digital age, and giving people the means to participate in digital activities, the Philippines can keep up with the demands and changes brought about by living with digital technology.