Globe GCash pioneers FinTech solutions in PH
MORE THAN a hundred CEOs and senior financial executives gathered in Cebu last September to join the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation discussions of the Cebu Action Plan (CAP).
In an event entitled “Finance Sector Roundtable and Dialogue with Apec finance officials and Ministers,” details of the CAP were presented to the private-sector delegates who were allowed to share their views on the pressing issues confronting the financial industry and economies in general, and to give additional suggestions on how the financial sector can help pursue the objectives of the CAP.
CAP is a development roadmap drafted by the Philippines, with inputs from development partners and other member economies of the APEC. The four key pillars of CAP include financial integration; fiscal reforms and transparency; financial resilience; and infrastructure development and financing.
“Private sector participation is a crucial determinant of success and sustainability in any endeavor. As host of the 2015 Apec meetings, we are pleased to see the overwhelming participation and interest of financial sector executives in the discussions on the Cebu Action Plan,” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said.
“Regional financial development and integration are needed in Apec’s financial markets to achieve economies of scale. In this regard, we will continue to promote financial integration, while balancing other considerations, such as investor protection, market integrity, regulatory conditions, monitoring de-risking, and financial stability, as these will pave the way for greater intra-regional trade and investments, and facilitate the development of more inclusive financial markets across Apec,” Pacific Rim finance ministers said in a joint statement.
Among the issues discussed during the meetings was financial inclusion, wherein ministers tackled the need to ensure that affordable financial services can be available to all, particularly the micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.
“To this end, we will promote trade and supply chain finance and alternative financing mechanisms in Apec to facilitate intra-regional trade and investment activities and greater regional integration, and boost inclusive growth,” Apec finance ministers said.
Philippine companies, for their part, have been doing their fair share in providing products and services that can help enhance financial inclusion in the country.
Leading telecommunications provider Globe Telecom is at the forefront of enabling financial inclusion with its Globe GCash, an internationally-acclaimed mobile money service of its wholly-owned subsidiary G-Xchange Inc.
“If you look at the Philippine market, three out of four Filipinos do not have access to bank accounts. Those that have bank accounts do not access the various financial services available to them and are still very much underserved. At the same time, about 40 percent of our municipalities do not have a physical banking presence. So there are very few people and businesses today that have access to these financial services,” Xavier Marzan, President & CEO of GXI explained.
In the last couple of years, Globe has also commercially launched innovative and first-in-world mobile payments services including GCash Beep Mastercard, GCash Powerpay+, and Globe Charge mPOS.
GXI, whose services have earned various international accolades, has also established a wide network of local and international partners that includes government agencies, utility companies, cooperatives, remittance companies, universities, enterprises, banks, and commercial establishments that leverage GCash as a means of payment for products and services via mobile phone or other digital channels.
“From our perspective, the markets we are serving are the unbanked and the underserved segments and this market is quite significant domestically. Our goal today is to scale up our reach and distribution so that we are able to cater to more people and businesses outside of the urban areas. In addition, we do have regional aspirations and we’re working on potential partnerships,” Marzan related.
“If you look at the region, there are multiple countries that are in the same situation as the Philippines (wherein about 1 to 2 billion people are unbanked). That’s why our vision is to ‘bank’ the next billion which includes the Philippines and other markets. The future is really bright because providing Filipinos access to financial services that help them achieve their dreams in many different ways is something that really matters not only to Globe but to the country in general,” Marzan added.
Currently, Globe GCash is enjoying a wide acceptance among users and is continuously growing. Records showed that for 2014 alone, GCash grew its active base and transaction counts by over 100 percent.
“Our live base is currently around 3 million and our aim is to grow the number exponentially in the next few years. The challenge is always in education and encouraging customers to use it for the first time-—financial services are quite complex and by adding technology to it, it becomes even more complicated. However, once customers start using GCash then they become engaged with the service,” Marzan related.
“Although GCash is at the forefront of innovation in financial services, at the core of what we do is basically financial inclusion. We provide financial services to those who are unbanked or underserved by the financial sector today, both in terms of consumers and merchants. With our GCash Mastercard product, which is a debit/prepaid card attached to the GCash mobile wallet, we enable the masses access to digital commerce,” Marzan added.
GCash now has more than 13,000 fixed partner outlets that accept cash in and cash out transactions. These are a combination of pawnshops, retailers, convenience stores, distributors, including the likes of 7-11, Puregold, SM, etc.
“We are focused on rapidly expanding this base by growing into our Globe retailer base. The vision is to have a ‘cash-in point in every barangay especially if we want financial inclusion. Likewise, we are evolving the traditional businesses of GCash into more payments and transactions. We will continue to push the boundaries of innovation,” Marzan concluded.
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