With one in three Filipinos still without physical access to banks, the Philippines presents fertile ground for innovations in fintech, an official of Mynt, the company behind GCash, the leading mobile wallet in the country, said.
Representing GCash at the Ignite Conference, Mynt’s Vice President for Money Transfers Frederic Levy said the regulatory and market conditions in the Philippines support progressive banking and bank-like infrastructures.
“The Philippines is supportive and moving fast. If you check, for example, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) perspective, they have the 2020 program. They say that in 2020, 20% of the transactions should be cashless. They are really pushing for it,” Levy said at the annual gathering of local and foreign business leaders at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.
In December 2015, the BSP launched the National Retail Payment System framework, which aims to increase electronic transactions exponentially in five years.
A 2015 Better Than Cash Alliance report estimated that only 1% of financial transactions in the Philippines were done electronically. By 2017, electronic transactions rose to 9.2%, owing to BSP regulations and programs that made collaborations easier and inter-bank transfers not only possible but convenient and seamless.
“With thoughtful collaborations, a wealth of problem-solving opportunities and a favorable regulatory environment, GCash is well-positioned to transform how Filipinos interact with money,” Levy said. “We just have to be more creative.”
Levy said emerging markets like the Philippines are rife with opportunities for the fintech sector. Gaps in the financial industry have thrown doors wide open for mobile platforms like GCash to leverage their technology and institutional partnerships in finding end-to-end solutions.
“There is more space for you to compete,” said Levy. “That’s why we talk about the unbanked and the underserved. That gives more opportunity. That, for me, is a big difference,” Levy said.
Studies show that 66% of Filipinos do not have bank accounts and 34% have no physical access to banks. Left out of the formal financial system, these citizens present a huge market for fintech innovations toward financial inclusion.
With products like GScore, GCredit and GSave, and a streamlined online verification process, GCash addresses chasms in the existing infrastructure by understanding the customer’s journey and then designing targeted systems based on those insights.
“Fintech starts from the consumer experience. Your job is to complete or, in some cases, replace the existing offer,” said Levy. He, however, emphasized that GCash sees banks as partners rather than competition. GSave, for example, is a joint effort with CIMB, one of the top five banks in the ASEAN.