Introduction to the Philippines

An overview of the Philippines currency, population and key statistics.

Cash currency

The Philippine peso (PHP or ₱) is available in a range of denominations, including coins in values of 1, 5 and 10 pesos, and 25, 5, and 1 centavos, and banknotes of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 pesos.

Digital currency

The Philippines is currently exploring the development of a digital currency. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has launched Project Agila, a program to pilot a central bank digital currency. This initiative, formerly known as Project CBDCPh, leverages Hyperledger Fabric, a popular distributed ledger technology platform. The project is aimed at developing and implementing a secure, regulated digital peso. The pilot testing phase of this wholesale digital currency initiative, which is scheduled to end in 2024, focuses on its use by select financial institutions. ​​​​​​​


The Philippines had an estimated population of 118 million people as of November 2023. The annual population growth rate has dipped to around 1.3%, mirroring a long-term decline in the fertility rate. With a population density of around 394 people per square kilometre, the Philippines is the world's 13th most populous country, accounting for approximately 1.46% of the global population. The median age of the country's population was approximately 25 years in 2023.


The official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and English, with each serving a distinct role in national life. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language, woven into the fabric of daily interactions and governance. English, on the other hand, is the dominant language in government, business, education, and the legal system. Together, these two languages serve as the foundation for communication and administration throughout the diverse archipelago.

Key statistics

Fuelled by robust domestic demand, the Philippine economy is projected to expand at a healthy 6% to 7% in 2023. However, the uncertain global landscape casts a shadow, with some analysts forecasting a potential slowdown in gross domestic product growth to between 4.5% and 5.5% later in the year. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development paints a slightly more optimistic picture, predicting a 5.6% growth rate for the year​​​.

The inflation rate, which peaked at 8.8% in 2022 before falling to 6.1% in May 2023 after the BSP tightened monetary policy, is a significant challenge. Though reduced, it remains elevated compared with fellow member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Inflation is forecast to ease to 4.3% in 2024. 

The Philippine economy is facing several challenges, including high unemployment, rising interest rates, import and export bottlenecks, and a depreciating peso against the US dollar. These factors contribute to the country's complex economic landscape​​​​. 

The Philippine GDP expanded by 4.3% in the second quarter of 2023, driven by sectors such as wholesale and retail trade and motor vehicle repair.

Internet & mobile phone trends

As of early 2023, the Philippines' digital landscape was characterised by high internet and mobile connectivity. The country has 85.16 million internet users, for a 73.1% penetration rate. Social media usage is also significant, with 84.45 million users, or 72.5% of the population. Additionally, median internet speeds are notable, with mobile connections averaging 24.04 megabits per second and fixed connections at 81.42 Mbps.

E-commerce statistics

The Philippines' e-commerce sector is expected to expand rapidly in 2023. The market revenue is projected to reach approximately $18.16 billion, with an expected annual growth rate of 12.93% from 2023 to 2027, potentially reaching around $29.54 billion by 2027. This growth positions the Philippines with the second-highest e-commerce growth rate in Southeast Asia.

Shopee, Lazada, and Zalora are popular e-commerce platforms among Filipinos, who prefer platforms that provide convenience and cost-effectiveness. For 56% of them, timely delivery and payment collection services are critical. While cash on delivery continues to reign supreme, accounting for a whopping 71% of transactions, the tide is turning toward digital payments. Credit cards, e-wallets, and online banking are gaining popularity, indicating a growing demand for modern payment methods. ​

How people pay in the Philippines

An overview of how people in the Philippines choose to make payments.

Traditional payment methods

The primary traditional payment methods used in the Philippines


A Visa credit/debit card is a financial payment card issued by banks or financial institutions. It allows users to make purchases, and withdraw cash and can be used online and in person. Visa's processing network can handle over 65,000 transaction messages per second.


Mastercard is a worldwide payment network that links financial institutions, merchants, and individuals, facilitating seamless transactions. This renowned company provides a range of credit and debit cards issued through partner banks. Customers may enjoy supplementary benefits such as rewards programs, cashback offers, and insurance coverage depending on the specific bank.

American Express

American Express cards encompass a range of payment cards provided by the multinational financial services corporation, American Express Company. The Amex card portfolio includes diverse options like credit cards, charge cards, and prepaid cards. Renowned for their broad acceptance among merchants, these cards grant cardholders access to various advantages, including perks, rewards programs, travel benefits, and dedicated customer service assistance.

Alternative payment methods (APMs)

Alternative payment methods


GrabPay is a digital wallet platform created by Grab, a Southeast Asian technology firm best known for its ride-hailing services. Users can use GrabPay to pay for a variety of services and transactions both online and in-store. It is designed to facilitate cashless transactions, offering users a convenient and secure way to pay for Grab services like transportation and food delivery, as well as a wide range of other goods and services. is a Philippine-based digital payment platform that provides a variety of financial services. It allows users to conduct a variety of transactions, including the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies, mobile load top-ups, bill payments, and remittances. The platform also provides users with a digital wallet to store funds and manage their finances. is known for its ease of use, allowing users to conduct transactions even without a bank account, which makes it especially popular in a country where a large portion of the population is unbanked.

Google Pay

Google Pay is a digital wallet and payment service developed by Google. It allows users to make secure payments using their mobile devices or computers. It supports various payment methods, offers compatibility across different devices, and provides features like loyalty program integration and transit ticketing. Google Pay prioritises security and convenience with tokenisation and biometric authentication. It has expanded to include digital banking services and continues to evolve.


Afterpay, a worldwide buy now, pay later (BNPL) service, enables customers to buy products instantly and pay in four equal instalments over six weeks. This service, accessible exclusively through its app, is used by numerous global merchants.


PayMaya, a virtual wallet, empowers Filipinos with seamless cashless options. Users can effortlessly pay bills, send money, shop online, top up mobile loads, and even make bank transfers. Beyond its virtual nature, PayMaya offers a linked physical card for in-store purchases and ATM withdrawals. This accessibility, even for those without traditional bank accounts, fuels the Philippines' growing digital economy.

Accepting payments in the Philippines

A guide to accepting payments in the Philippines.

How to accept online payments in the Philippines

Before accepting online payments, you must determine which methods you prefer. Then you can choose a payment gateway provider, a service that authorises and processes online payments with their specific system. 

Although there are plenty of payment gateway options in the Philippines, the general process for online payments typically involves an acquirer, issuer, retailer, and cardholder in the following steps:

1. The cardholder initiates a payment by presenting their payment card to the retailer to purchase goods or services.

2. The retailer sends the payment details to the acquirer, who processes the payment request and sends it to the payment scheme (such as Mastercard or Visa).

3. The payment scheme sends the payment request to the issuer (such as a bank or licensed issuer) who issued the card to the cardholder.

4. The issuer checks if the cardholder has enough funds to complete the transaction and approves or declines the payment request. If the payment is approved, the issuer sends an authorisation code to the payment scheme.

5. The payment scheme sends the authorisation code to the acquirer, which then sends it to the retailer, completing the transaction.

How long does an international payment from the Philippines take?

The payment processing time may vary depending on the method and the recipient's bank. For instance, online money transfers through platforms like PayPal can quickly and conveniently send money to multiple destinations. 

  • Bank debit/credit cards: International payments with bank debit or credit cards may take a few minutes to a few hours, depending on bank processing times.

  • Online money transfers: Platforms like Google Pay can process international payments within minutes to hours, depending on the service and destination country.

  • Wire transfers: Traditional bank-to-bank transfers or wire may take one to five business days or longer, depending on the destination country, intermediary banks, and transaction requirements.


Merchant fees

Merchant fees for online payments in the Philippines can vary depending on the payment method and the merchant services provider used. Here are some examples of typical merchant fees for online payments in the Philippines: 

  • Credit and debit cards: Merchant fees for accepting online credit and debit card payments can range according to the transaction amount. It also varies depending on the type of card used and the merchant services provider.

  • Bank transfers: Bank transfer fees can vary depending on the bank used, with some banks charging a flat fee per transaction and others charging a percentage of the transaction amount.

Other fees

Other fees surrounding online payments in the Philippines include charges incurred by merchants, payment processors, and financial institutions involved in the payment processing chain. Below are some common fees: 

  • Interchange fees: Interchange fees are charges paid by merchants' banks to cardholders' banks to cover the costs of processing card transactions. These fees are usually based on a percentage of the transaction value and can vary depending on the type of card used and the merchant's industry.

  • Payment gateway fees: Payment gateway providers charge a fee for processing transactions on their platform, which may be a percentage of the transaction value or a flat fee per transaction.

  • Cross-border fees: If a merchant accepts payments from customers outside the country, they may be subject to additional fees for cross-border transactions, including currency conversion fees and international processing fees.

  • Merchant discount rate: A processing fee that merchants are charged for transactions made using credit or debit cards. This fee generally falls within 1% to 3% of the total transaction amount.

Security challenges of online payments in the Philippines

The rise of digital payment services in the Philippines, as well as the country's transition to a cashless society, have pushed cybersecurity to the forefront. The rise in digital payment usage has coincided with an increase in scams and fraud. From 2019 to 2021, the BSP reported fraud and scam complaints involving ₱2 billion, with 2021 accounting for ₱540 million of these transactions. The Credit Card Association of the Philippines has seen a 21% increase in credit card fraud since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to these cybersecurity challenges, the government proactively launched the National Cybersecurity Plan 2022 in 2017. This comprehensive initiative aims to fortify the defences of various sectors, including the nation's critical infrastructure, public and military networks, businesses, and individual internet users. The BSP has taken concrete steps to enhance financial security. They have implemented stringent approval processes for financial institutions offering electronic payments and services, prioritising consumer protection. Additionally, the BSP is poised to deploy the Advanced SupTech Engine for Risk-Based Compliance (ASTERisC*) among select institutions under its supervision. This innovative technology will leverage artificial intelligence and automation to strengthen cybersecurity through technology-driven oversight. Furthermore, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has actively partnered with the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Centre by signing a memorandum of agreement. This collaboration bolsters DBP's defences against cyber threats and ensures the continued protection of its vital systems.

Key sectors & industries in the Philippines

According to Statista and various other sources, the top 10 industries in the Philippines are:

Food Services

Booming with diverse dining options and significant economic contributions, the Philippine food service industry is projected to reach ₱239.5 billion in sales by 2023. In 2022, the sector's gross value added soared to ₱12.24 trillion, fuelled by a hefty ₱3.71 trillion from the wholesale and retail trade alone. This sector also reigns supreme in job creation, with a remarkable 56.9% of the workforce employed in 2020, particularly in wholesale and retail. Looking beyond food, the logistics sector, a 4% to 6% contributor to the country's GDP, is poised for impressive growth. Forecast to expand at a compound annual rate of 8.2% from 2022 to 2027, it is expected to reach a market size of ₱1.160 trillion.


Despite facing global headwinds, such as the conflict in Ukraine, rising interest rates, and supply chain disruptions, the Philippines' finance industry maintained its resilience in 2023, poised for a 6.5% economic growth propelled by increased digital technology adoption. However, navigating the twin challenges of rising interest rates and inflation will be crucial. While interest rate hikes could widen net interest margins, they may also dampen new loan growth due to increased macroeconomic volatility. 


The Philippine agriculture industry remains a vital force, employing roughly a quarter of the workforce across farming, fisheries, livestock, and forestry. In 2022, it contributed a significant ₱1.78 trillion in gross value added, representing 8.9% of the country's GDP. Bananas, rice, corn, sugarcane, pineapple, mangoes, and coconut are the top agricultural products, showcasing the sector's diverse output.


With significant growth and development initiatives, the Philippine tourism industry will play a critical role in the nation's economy in 2023. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the industry will contribute $80 billion, or 19.4% of GDP. Tourism revenue is expected to reach $3.71 billion in 2023, with an annual growth rate of 8.60%, leading to a market volume of $5.16 billion by 2027. Furthermore, the Department of Tourism has launched the 2023-2028 National Tourism Development Plan, to make the Philippines a leading tourism destination in Asia by promoting Filipino culture, heritage, and identity.

Real Estate

The Philippine real estate market is poised for long-term growth, thanks to strong demand for both commercial and residential properties. Overseas investment, particularly from Japan, is steadily increasing, adding vigour to the sector. The Metro Manila condominium market, a key driver of residential growth, is expected to grow by an astounding 17% by the end of 2024, reaching a staggering 166,400 units. The commercial sector is equally impressive, with office leasing volumes increasing by 67% to 669,000 square metres in 2022. This trend is expected to continue, fuelled by the growing popularity of hybrid workplaces, which is expected to drive demand for new retail spaces.


The Philippine construction industry is poised for a solid future, with a projected average annual growth rate of 7.3% from 2023 to 2026. This follows an impressive 12.1% expansion in 2022, and a further 7% real-term growth expected in 2023. This robust trajectory is fuelled by significant government investments across various sectors, including transport, energy, residential, healthcare, education, agriculture, societal needs, and climate change, with a proposed 2022 budget of $100.8 billion. This budget prioritises the development of healthcare, public and digital infrastructure. Furthermore, the government is focusing on renewable energy projects, to increase renewable energy's share to 50% by 2040 and add 43 gigawatts of power generation capacity. After increasing by 6.2% and 11.4% in the previous two quarters, the industry's added value increased by 10.8% year on year in the first quarter of 2023.


The Philippine e-commerce market is poised for a meteoric rise, fuelled by an increase in online shopping and internet access. It is expected to grow from $13.63 billion in 2023 to a staggering $25.99 billion by 2028, representing a compound annual growth rate of 13.78% over the next five years. This rapid expansion isn't limited to the future; 2023 is expected to see a 15% increase, pushing the market value past $16 billion. Mobile commerce, in particular, has seen an explosion, with lockdowns propelling its growth even further. During these periods, mobile shopping skyrocketed to a remarkable 53%, accompanied by a 57% increase in spending through mobile channels.


The Philippine information and communications technology market is poised for impressive growth, forecast to expand at a CAGR of 8.0% over the next five years. This momentum is underpinned by the thriving information technology and business process management industry, which generated $32.5 billion in revenue in 2022 and is expected to nearly double to $59 billion by 2028. Global giants like Accenture, Cisco Systems, Globe Telecom, IBM, and Dell Technologies are actively contributing to this burgeoning market. Driving this growth is a surge in spending on hardware and software services, fuelled by rising IT investments. The software and software service segment alone is projected to reach a remarkable $95 million by 2025. A further testament to the sector's robust expansion is the significant increase in IT hiring activity observed in August 2022.


The Philippines is cementing its position as a rising manufacturing hub in Asia, thanks to a 9.1% year-on-year increase in manufacturing production in August 2023. This key sector, a significant contributor to the nation's GDP, benefits from increasing exports of manufactured goods as the Philippines deepens its integration into the global supply chain and invests in upskilling its workforce. However, the industry's reliance on imported raw materials remains a critical challenge for long-term sustainability.


The Philippines, which has some of the highest out-of-pocket health expenditures in the Asia-Pacific region, is dealing with a surge in demand for affordable medicines. In 2021, pharmacy spending swallowed roughly 26% of the country's total healthcare expenditure, with nearly half dedicated to hospitals. In response, the government's Universal Health Coverage program seeks to reduce drug prices and stimulate local production, aiming to improve accessibility for Filipino consumers.

Imports and Exports

In 2023, the Philippines' trade is characterised by significant imports and exports in various categories. The top imports are electronic products, which account for 25% of the total, followed by mineral fuels at 21% and transportation equipment at 10%. The country's primary import sources are China (13%), the United States (11%), Japan (8%), and Taiwan (8%). 

In terms of exports, electronic products rank first, with total earnings of $2.67 billion in April 2023, accounting for 54.4% of the total. Other notable exports include manufactured goods, which contributed $275.97 million (5.6%), and other mineral products, which contributed $207.93 million (4.2%).

Regulation in the Philippines

The regulatory environment of the Philippines.

Summary of the regulatory environment in the Philippines

To maintain fairness and operational smoothness in business ventures in the Philippines, entrepreneurs are required to comply with a range of laws and regulations, which include: 

  • Company law: This includes regulations governing companies' establishment, operations, and dissolution.

  • Employment law: This includes regulations governing employment contracts, working conditions, and employee rights.

  • Product liability law: This includes regulations governing the legal liabilities and responsibilities of manufacturers, sellers, distributors, and other parties involved in the production and sale of goods.

  • Intellectual property law: This includes regulations governing copyrights, patents, and trademarks.

  • Competition law: This includes regulations governing competition and antitrust matters to promote fair competition.

  • Consumer protection law: This includes regulations governing the rights of consumers, product safety, and advertising standards.

  • Data protection law: This includes regulations concerning the collection, use, and storage of personal data.

In the Philippines, a diverse landscape of government agencies plays a crucial role in safeguarding the principles of fair business practices, employee rights, and consumer protection. When it comes to businesses, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) takes the reins for single proprietorships, while the Cooperative Development Authority stands as the guardian of cooperatives. Enforcing employment laws falls primarily on the shoulders of the Department of Labor and Employment. It acts as the watchdog for the private sector, while the Civil Service Commission diligently oversees regulations related to government employees. For specialised employment concerns, the National Council on Disability Affairs steps in, ensuring equal opportunities and fair treatment for all. 

How card payments are regulated in the Philippines

The Philippines regulates card payments through a robust framework of laws and regulatory bodies. The Philippine Credit Card Industry Regulation Law (Republic Act No. 10870) plays a central role, overseeing all credit card issuers and transactions. This law upholds global standards and fosters an efficient and secure payment system. The BSP further strengthens this framework by implementing rules and regulations that prevent arbitrary practices by card issuers. Complementing these regulations, the Credit Card Operations Manual of Regulations for Banks offers comprehensive guidelines on managing risks in credit card operations. These guidelines cover crucial aspects like organisational setup, information systems, accounting policies, and internal controls.

Do I need a licence?

Yes. To start a business in the Philippines, you must first obtain a licence and meet several basic requirements. These include registering your partnership or corporation with the country's Securities and Exchange Commission, registering your business trade name with the DTI, and obtaining a mayor's business permit to operate in a specific city or municipality, which is also required for local business tax payments. Please keep in mind that additional requirements may apply depending on the nature of your business.

Payment solutions in the Philippines

An overview of how to accept payments from customers in the Philippines

Payment gateways and providers in the Philippines

In the rapidly changing landscape of payment methods, businesses must prioritise a smooth payment experience for their customers. APEXX, a forefront payment technology company, offers a solution that consolidates payments from a spectrum of providers.

Anticipating the varied payment preferences of modern consumers, APEXX's Payment Orchestration Layer (POL) platform serves as a central hub, bridging various payment methods and financial institutions. The primary benefit of the POL solution is its capacity to handle multiple payment streams within one cohesive platform, supplemented by tools that elevate business efficiency. 

One notable feature is Intelligent Routing. This function evaluates aspects like cost, risk, and currency to select the best payment channel for each transaction. Such precision reduces transactional errors and can decrease associated fees.

 Integration of the APEXX POL with existing payment infrastructure is straightforward. The platform provides user-friendly plugins and adaptable APIs, facilitating its blend with a range of payment platforms, from e-commerce portals to POS systems.

 As a prominent payment solution provider, APEXX assists businesses in the Philippines and beyond, refining their payment processes. Leveraging its versatile payment orchestration platform, businesses can adeptly manage diverse payment methods, enhancing overall customer satisfaction.

Cheapest payment solutions in the Philippines

To reduce fees in their payment stacks, merchants in the Philippines can implement the following strategies:

  • Negotiate fees: Merchants should negotiate with their payment providers for better rates, which can include transaction fees, interchange fees, and monthly fees.

  • Choose a suitable payment provider: Merchants should research and compare different payment providers to select the one that offers competitive rates and low fees.

  • Use alternative payment methods: Merchants can reduce fees by using alternative payment methods such as e-wallets or bank transfers instead of traditional card payments.

  • Prevent chargebacks: To avoid chargebacks and additional fees, merchants can offer clear product descriptions, prompt customer complaint resolution, and refunds when necessary.

  • Implement fraud prevention measures: Merchants should adopt fraud prevention measures to prevent fraudulent transactions, which can lead to chargebacks and additional fees.

  • Monitor payment processing fees: Merchants should keep a close eye on their payment processing fees and use payment analytics tools to track their expenses and identify areas where they can reduce costs.

 Merchants can also consider using payment aggregators such as APEXX, which allow them to accept multiple payment methods through a single platform, reducing the need for multiple payment providers and lowering costs.

BNPL in the Philippines

The BNPL payment industry is expanding rapidly in the Philippines. It is expected to grow by 22.5% per year, reaching $1.9 billion in 2023.

 This surge is supported by rising e-commerce penetration. Looking ahead, the BNPL sector in the Philippines presents a strong growth outlook, with a projected CAGR of 12.4% from 2023 to 2028. Consequently, the BNPL gross merchandise value is expected to expand from $1.5 billion in 2022 to $3.4 billion by 2028.

 For businesses in the Philippines, leveraging APEXX's solutions provides an efficient way to integrate various payment systems. This includes popular BNPL options, ensuring effective payment management and increasing customer satisfaction.

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