Gov’t eyes tie-up with China’s Jack Ma
The head of the Duterte administration’s economic team is planning partnerships with the Alibaba Group of Asia’s richest man Jack Ma in initiatives that will bolster rural development as well as support small and medium enterprises.
In a statement Friday, the Department of Finance said that Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, during his recent visit to the e-commerce giant’s business school in Hangzhou, China, invited the Alibaba Group to partner with the Duterte administration and the private sector in building an inclusive financial system in the Philippines that would help fuel growth in rural communities and level the playing field for small businesses.
“A closer relationship between the Philippine government and Alibaba is among the ways of further cementing bilateral ties between the Philippines and China on the Duterte watch,” Dominguez said.
For his part, Ma was quoted by the DOF as saying during a closed-door meeting with Philippine government officials led by Dominguez as well as Filipino business leaders that “the Philippines, like other emerging economies, has a huge potential to embrace the technology revolution.”
The DOF said Ma believed that e-commerce was specifically designed for developing countries.
“Someday, I think the Alibaba people would be very happy to go to the Philippines to learn from you. The Filipinos are a great and kind people and I have a lot of people working together who come from the Philippines. I think they are intelligent, hardworking and professional,” Ma said.
The DOF was also looking at a potential tie-up between the recently launched Overseas Filipino Bank and Alibaba’s fintech arm to slash the costs being shouldered by overseas Filipinos to send money back home.
Dominguez earlier said that Ant Financial, which offers Alibaba’s financial technology solutions, could help reduce remittance costs and benefit more than 10 million overseas Filipino workers.
Ant Financial may also offer online-based banking as well as financial management services, Dominguez said.
“Ant Financial’s low-cost mobile payment technology that has helped China attain financial inclusion for its small home-based enterprises can be tapped to help OFWs send money back home and prudently manage their finances,” the finance chief added.
In particular, Dominguez said the new Overseas Filipino Bank could serve as the launching pad for the online payment platform in case a deal with Alibaba would push through.
Dominguez had said that one of the key features of the Overseas Filipino Bank would be a remittance service for OFWs as well as a loan program for Filipinos planning to return here to start businesses or build their homes.
The state-run Land Bank of the Philippines had acquired Philippine Postal Savings Bank to establish the Overseas Filipino Bank, a campaign promise of President Duterte.
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