In the Philippines today, more than 51 million adults remain unbanked. That is 71% of the total adult population in the country, one of the lowest levels of financial inclusion in South East Asia. This is due to a number of reasons, including the continued proliferation of cash, the country’s unique geography of over 7,500 islands, lack of money and poverty, lack of documentary requirements and simple refusal to open a bank account. Added to that, the vast majority in the Philippines with bank accounts still prefer a traditional bank in brick and mortar form and mistrust digital banking services. This is something that the current administration has identified and is seeking to address with the National Payment Systems Act, which looks to digitalise the Philippines financial system through mobile payments. However, significant obstacles remain. Roughly 30 million Filipinos are still not connected to the internet, and there are ongoing issues of affordability, availability and speed of internet services in the country, both broadband and mobile data. The physical geography of the Philippines has hampered not only the expansion of traditional banking, but also mobile and internet network coverage.
Added to this backdrop, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these issues for the millions of unbanked in poor and rural communities in the Philippines. The lockdown imposed earlier in the year forced most shops to close and made it difficult for consumers to pay at bank or store counters. With limited access to financial institutions, banks curbing hours and branch openings, social distancing requirements, cash being seen as a vehicle for the spread of viruses, and restrictions placed on the movement of people and business operations, the outbreak of the virus has accelerated the need for new ways to pay for goods and services for the unbanked residents of the Philippines.
One company that is helping to support the Philippines’ unbanked population and disparate payments systems in the wake of the pandemic is DragonPay. DragonPay is a pioneer and leader in alternative payments for the Philippine ecommerce market and is sweeping up the fragmented payments market. DragonPay accepts payments for online transactions through an unrivalled network of channels, including allowing payments via online banking, e-wallets, ATMs, over the counter cash payments, International Remittance Centers and cash on delivery. DragonPay means that people in the Philippines can make e-payments through any bank in the Philippines, Paypal, 7-Eleven, supermarkets, WeChatPay, AliPay, GCash (the largest mobile wallet in the Philippines with 20 million registered users) as well as South East Asia’s version of Uber’s e-wallet – GrabPay. As well as these increased payment options, customers and merchants alike have more secure payments and low transaction fees.
Rodney Bain, Co-founder and Managing Director of APEXX Global, said: “In comparison to its neighbours, the Philippines has been slow to adopt e-payments, with consumers preferring to pay with cash. The advantages of e-payments are well known – it is more convenient and efficient, less risky than handling cash, and is also more transparent and more secure. DragonPay is changing the way that people transact in the Philippines, accelerated by the impact of Covid-19.
“We are delighted to be able to say that we have integrated DragonPay onto our platform as they continue to help the unbanked benefit from e-payments and banking services in the wake of the pandemic. As the people of the Philippines become more familiar with these e-payments methods, we are very positive about the prospect of their continued use in a post-COVID-19 world”, he concluded.
Robertson "Dick" Chiang, COO/CTO of Dragonpay Corporation, of DragonPay, said: “The outbreak of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions brought many challenges, particularly for consumer-facing businesses who have had to transform the way they transact with consumers, as well as for millions of unbanked in poor and rural communities in the Philippines. In recent months, we’ve been able to help consumers and businesses across the country to accelerate their use of e-payments. This partnership with APEXX marks a hugely significant landmark and we are delighted to be partnering with them to help merchants thrive in this new reality. We are also pleased to have integrated with their award-winning platform in such quick time.”
As COVID-19 accelerates the growth of digital payments, APEXX’s partnership with DragonPay provides merchants with more payment methods and reduce friction and costs across the Philippines. Combined with APEXX’s award-winning international platform, businesses and brands across the Philippines will be empowered to grow sales, boost conversion rates and find new customers who previously have not been able to access them, or have been unable to as a result of the pandemic.