Yearender: E-wallets here to stay, fuel e-commerce boom

Published by rudy Date posted on December 28, 2021

by Richmond Mercurio – The Philippine Star, 28 Dec 2021

MANILA, Philippines — While 2020 could be considered as the year when mobile wallets gained massive popularity in the Philippines, this year cemented their dominance and proved that they are here to stay.

Mobile wallets have become an essential part of most people’s lives during the ongoing health crisis, and emerged as a key driving force behind e-commerce, an industry which has been booming since the onset of the pandemic.

While a number of consumers are still sticking with the traditional cash on delivery method or COD, more Filipinos are shifting to digital payments for convenience and safety purposes.

Leading the digital shift in e-commerce for customers and businesses alike are two prominent e-wallet players in the country – PayMaya and GCash.

PayMaya and Voyager Innovations president Shailesh Baidwan said the remarkable growth of e-commerce is driven by the explosion of e-wallet users, many of whom were previously unbanked and underserved.

“With the accelerated pace of digital payment adoption and a more robust logistics industry supporting the movement and delivery of goods, there is no turning back on digital payments and e-commerce. It is all about accessibility, safety, and convenience,” Baidwan told The STAR.

“A lot of the building blocks and rails are already here. It is now about the speed and momentum of execution for the Philippines,” he said.

As digital financial account ownership grows and as digital payments become the preferred acceptance method among enterprises and the government, Baidwan said Filipinos would fully experience what digital commerce has to offer.

PayMaya prides itself on being the only fintech company in the country operating an end-to-end digital financial services ecosystem with a widely used consumer e-wallet app, the most extensive on-ground agent network via Smart Padala, and the largest non-bank enterprise payments processing business.

“We have seen the transaction volume more than double year-on-year in June 2021 for e-commerce transactions processed through Pay with PayMaya. With Pay with PayMaya, our e-wallet users only need to enter their registered mobile number on our merchant partner’s checkout page,” Baidwan said.

On top of this, Baidwan said more small businesses are participating and thriving in the digital economy because they can sell their goods and get paid instantly via social media, chat apps, email, and even SMS.

As a testament, PayMaya saw an over 11-fold year-on-year growth in the number of unique small merchants using its enterprise platforms in June.

“We made it easier for enterprises to embrace e-commerce. Small entrepreneurs can now start their businesses and get paid in a breeze, even without a website. All they need to do is share a PayMaya QR, send a digital invoice linked to the PayMaya Checkout page or receive bank transfers or e-wallet payments via the PayMaya Negosyo app,” Baidwan said.

Amid the pandemic, PayMaya accelerated its rollout in previously cash-heavy sectors, such as quick-service restaurants, retail, and pharmaceuticals to help them embrace e-commerce as their mainstay channel.

Baidwan said the spread is now more distributed across industries, with increasing digital payments adoption of other segments such as food and supermarkets, pharmaceuticals, transport, services and utilities, government, and schools.

Popular mobile wallet GCash, meanwhile, has seen its merchants and social sellers base soar to over three million.

“GCash enabled these businesses to thrive amidst the pandemic through relevant products that allowed them to: send and receive money from vendors and clients, advertise, have a storefront through our mini-app GLife, and digitize disbursement through our P3 solutions,” GCash president and CEO Martha Sazon told The STAR.

Sazon said mobile wallets such as GCash support and accelerate e-commerce and help keep the economy moving by providing a safe and convenient method of payment.

“We saw the impact the pandemic had on businesses, especially those that used to be dependent on physical stores and did not have any form of digital presence. We feel proud that we are able to help them with the work that we do every day,” she said.

GCash is currently the e-wallet market leader in the country with over 51 million registered users, three million digital touchpoints, 69,000 cash-in and cash-out agents, and 700 billers.

Sazon said the goal is to make GCash available at all sari-sari stores, which are considered pillars of every Filipino community.

“We are transforming them into GCash Pera Outlets, hubs for GCash services like cash-in and cash-out, with a livelihood proposition for extra income,” she said.

Sazon said e-wallets, however, are now going beyond payments, as they offer more relevant services based on the more immediate needs of their users.

She said e-wallet players are also working toward making digital financial services more accessible, noting that many traditional offerings from banks are not suited for the masses in terms of their value proposition and the complex documentary requirements needed.

PayMaya, for its part, early this year brought e-commerce closer to Filipinos with the PayMaya Mall, which assembled over 360 PayMaya-preferred brands, the most extensive list of e-commerce merchants embedded in a wallet app to date.

Baidwan said industry insights and their own market study showed that while Filipinos want the accessibility, convenience, and technology of digital payments, they also understand the confidence and credibility that banks bring.

It is for this reason that the company is establishing a digital bank called Maya Bank.

“With Maya Bank, PayMaya will leverage the deep insights and trust that we have built to provide the next set of intuitive, transparent, accessible, and most importantly, trusted digital financial services for consumers and enterprises. Among the services that we are looking at are use cases that can further grow e-commerce transactions,” he said.

As the popularity of e-commerce platforms increases and continues to do so in the years to come, mobile wallets such as GCash and PayMaya are expected to sustain their key role in ensuring the industry’s growth.

“In the following years, PayMaya, together with Maya Bank, will continue to be at the forefront of providing digital financial services to consumers and enterprises,” said Baidwan.

“To further support the e-commerce industry, we will continue to provide relevant products that address real customer needs and strive to always provide the best customer experience possible,” Sazon said.

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