The first half of 2020 brought drastic changes to the manner of conducting everyday business. The global pandemic challenged national governments to build a new normal for their countries, technology being the main tool for achieving this endeavor.
As the whole world is forced into lockdown, this drastic change in the digital landscape is expected to be the new normal. In the local context, the recent Digital 2020 April Statshot report of Hootsuite and We Are Social showed that the number of mobile connections stood at 159-percent, while 73 million people, or more than half of the country’s population, were connected to the Internet in January 2020 alone.
Travel and restrictions and quarantine protocols made a huge impact on people’s overall digital behavior as well, people have turned to their connected devices to adapt to the new way of life and to find a sense of comfort amid the anxiety brought about by the pandemic.
The freeze on on-ground economic activity delivered a brutal blow on businesses of all sizes. Going digital is the only thing keeping some business from going bust, utilizing social media for marketing and taking advantage of the country’s vibrant digital landscape to make profit or for some, to simply break even. E-commerce penetration is highly expected to rise significantly due to the pandemic.
The Philippines is one of the countries in Asia with the steepest decline in human mobility, recording a plunge of 82-percent in usage of retail and recreation facilities such as restaurants, shopping malls and cinemas. However, according to a report by Maybank in April 2020, lockdowns and quarantines increased online consumer activity. As dine-in settings in restaurants are no longer viable, more and more food merchants are signing up for food delivery services like GrabFood and Foodpanda, among others.
In the Philippines, GCash is also doing its part in fueling the digital economy by providing a payment gateway between merchants and consumers amid COVID-19.
“Even before the pandemic, GCash has advocated for the shift from cashless transactions. Now more than ever, we are willing to work with the national government to define a new normal for the financial industry in order to spare the economy from the impact of a full-on recession,” said GCash Head of Payments Jovitt Bajar.
Financial technology will not only help alleviate the current economic problem. More importantly, e-wallets such as GCash can drive payments to further lessen human contact to avoid the further spread of COVID-19. Since exchange of currency cannot be avoided even in a global pandemic, implementing digital transfers as the norm will play a big part in flattening the curve while at the same time encouraging enterprise.
GCash has been doing the same for its subscribers and customers, providing convenient ways of transacting with online merchants. Whether it’s paying bills, online shopping, or bank transfers, GCash allows Filipinos to continue with business as usual from the safety of their own homes. Frictionless payments such as that of mobile digital finance remove potential health risks related to cash handling. This is the most opportune time for Filipinos to consider cashless payment options for their transactions. GCash has become a popular means of transacting in the Philippines. Aside from its use as a digital payments facility for online transactions, GCash wallets may also be used to pay for physical transactions in 70,000 merchants nationwide.
Consumers can buy their groceries from GCash partner Puregold or their on-the-go needs from convenience store chain 7/11, both of which use the Scan-to-Pay (STP) via Barcode payment system. To use the STP via Barcode, customers need only to generate a unique barcode via their GCash apps and have the cashier scan the code via the scanner guns.
“It’s not just a matter of convenience anymore. Emerging from the crisis means we have to prioritize our customers’ safety,” Bajar added.
As quarantine protocols remain to be observed in the Philippines, the need to adopt safer alternatives is more urgent than ever
“How it will be integrated into daily life still remains to be seen but with an increase in the country’s overall behavior, e-commerce will play a big part in the post-COVID scenario. Given this, we at GCash are continuously partnering with more merchants and billers to connect consumers, merchants, and even the government,” Bajar said.
Globe Fintech Innovations Inc. (Mynt), which operates GCash, is part of the portfolio companies of 917Ventures, the largest corporate incubator in the Philippines wholly-owned by Globe Telecom Inc.