TELECOM | Cashless shopping race
The aspiration of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for the country is to transform a fifth of total volume of transactions to non-cash methods by 2020.
Achieving this goal might sound to be a bit of a stretch, but it is highly doable, as the signs of the time point to two things — that Filipinos are now more receptive to disruptive technology and that handling cash is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
The challenge now is how to entice the growing number of digital payments users to use financial technology (fintech) platforms for their daily needs. Does access to terminals come first or does demand from consumers overtake this need?
For GCash, operated by Globe Fintech Innovations Inc. (Mynt), the race towards this goal of transforming 20 percent of cash transactions to non-cash involves providing access first to users and merchants notwithstanding the demand.
Through its investor Ayala Corp., Mynt was able to quickly deploy QR payments system to a wide selection of merchants ranging from fat-tail enterprises to long-tail ones, including micro-entrepreneurs.
“We value the retail strength of Ayala Corp., which has a huge arsenal of malls from which we can deploy our services in at the fastest and most cost-effective manner. We plan to do the same with all the malls in the country, ” said JM Aujero, GCash vice president for Merchant Solutions.
With a total of 1.8 million square meters of gross leasable area across its portfolio of more than 30 malls nationwide, Ayala’s retail footprint is a tailor fit armour for GCash’s QR solutions.
Today, GCash’s QR payments systems span to 50,000 merchants across the Philippines, including popular summer destination Boracay, and areas in Visayas and Mindanao. Users of GCash can now experience a more convenient cashless shopping experience through the scan-to-pay feature of the GCash app.
For Ayala mall goers, they can easily purchase items — say for example a simple shirt or a complex grocery list — and even buy tickets to watch the movies in the cinemas.
QR payments started the cashless revolution in China. And this has bore fruit to other digital financial services such savings, loans, credit, and even wealth management.
Using the QR system is beneficial for both the end-users and merchants. In fact, it is considered as a game-changer in the financial services sector, as it gives provides customers and enterprises greater convenience due to its speed.
It likewise removes the negative consequences that are always connected to cash handling, including risks of theft and fraud. QR systems also provide a better way of managing finances, given that financial tools also provide a traceable history of transactions.
Merchants also enjoy a lower capital and lower operational expense for QR systems. What they need are simply a print out of their approved QR code, a feature phone, and well, a person to man the counter.
“The QR payment mode is indeed a game changer for both consumers and business. What we envision with Ayala is to have a cash-lite Philippines akin to the goal of the central bank,” Aujero said.
Reaching thousands of consumers at any given time of a day, Ayala Corp.’s wide footprint of malls is an asset for GCash’s goal to broaden payment options among Filipinos.
“We will disrupt the payment methods and transform the Philippines into a cashless nation,” Aujero said.
Supporting the QR payment method is the fact that there are about 40 million smartphone users in the country. There are also 60 million Filipino online users.
“More and more people are using smartphones, this is an opportunity to make digital payments a preferred method for consumers instead of cash and cards,” Aujero said. “”From malls to simple merchants, QR is the future of payments in the Philippines.”