When a pandemic forces everyone to stay at home, individuals tend to get creative with how they spend their time and money. With multiple social-media shops popping up and traditional businesses shifting their focus on the development of their digital processes, it is no doubt that the pandemic has made financial technology (fintech) essential to each and every Filipino today.
The era of Ube pan de sal and sushi bake was ushered in with the help of fintech applications that have now cemented their place on the screens of our smartphones. In a country where cash is king, most perceived digital transactions as novel. Before the “new normal,” payment through QR codes and apps like GCash were deemed optional. Nowadays, having a digital wallet is considered necessary.
As proximity from urban centers remains an issue for the Filipino, fintech services continue to bridge the gap between traditional and modern practices, playing a huge role in financial inclusion. Mobile wallet serves as an ally to rural and underserved households—and nowadays small and medium-sized enterprises—as it utilizes modern technology to provide accessible financial services and information to everyone.
According to a study by the Asian Development Bank, fintech services can address “around 40 percent of unmet demand for payment services and about 20 percent of credit requirements of poor households and small businesses in Asia.”
A wave of food trends and online shopping campaigns aside, every Filipino has had to adapt to the draconian restrictions the new coronavirus disease has brought upon us. Fintech companies like GCash have emerged as key players during this pandemic, offering alternative financial solutions to an economy crippled by Covid-19.
Local restaurants focused on takeout services, promoting contactless payment through the use of credit cards and digital wallets. Online social-media shops have taken it upon themselves to provide essentials to Filipinos in the most efficient way possible, with transactions facilitated by mobile apps and instant fund transfers.
Social distancing is our gospel, and companies like GCash, the country’s leading digital wallet, are thrust at the forefront of the “contactless” movement. While most businesses have set up short-term recovery plans to survive the economic slump, the fintech industry looks at the broader picture. What comes next as the pandemic has hastened the shift toward digital transactions? What must be done to ensure that this growth remains sustainable?
With the increasing demand and the sudden surge of registrations, GCash sets a precedent, focusing on continuously improving their digital infrastructure and company workflow.
In May alone, GCash transactions ballooned by 700 percent year on year. As it continues to recognize its responsibility in the fight against the coronavirus, GCash has taken two steps forward in its commitment to extend its services to everyone, marking the Covid-19 era with strong moves catered toward its growing consumer base.
The company has strengthened its partnership with Ant Financial, which runs Alipay, the world’s largest online wallet. GCash has responded to the expansion of their operations by future proofing their app, upgrading their database to the A+ Platform, set to ensure efficiency and security in line with building consumer confidence.
This shows how fintech companies must leverage on the interest in their services, moving toward dominating the financial industry, and focusing on the long-term commitment toward digitalization and innovation. Fintech should make its mark in history with its constant push toward inclusive financial practices, and how it came to help in the middle of a crisis that banks on contactless technological advances. From local start-ups to individual remittances, fintech has emerged as a game changer for the Filipino individual, and traditional business models have to catch up, ASAP.
For the financially marginalized, mobile wallets serve a proliferating demand for ease of services—from paying bills, credit and investments. With a major portion of the population suffering disproportionately during this pandemic, apps like GCash make these services more accessible.
Now, as we welcome the second half of the year, there are norms that the pandemic has instilled that are set to stay with us for a long time. Fintech has proven its role in facilitating the most important practice of today, social distancing. The government has taken this into account as well, enlisting the help of fintech players in distributing financial aid all over the country.
The fight against Covid-19 is not futile, there are ways to adapt and emerge from this victoriously, and fintech companies must recognize their role in this pandemic and embrace this unexpected opportunity to grow and accomplish what they set out to do—serve the underserved.
Author is the Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of GCash.