Inclusive digital payments solutions to drive Philippine e-Payment Readiness Index

PayMaya, the first-of-its-kind digital payments mobile app that can be used by anyone regardless of mobile number, is now the number one most downloaded and fastest growing financial mobile app in Google Play Philippines.

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Introduced last August by digital financial services pioneer Smart eMoney, Inc., PayMaya is a mobile app that enables consumers to immediately shop online – without the need for extensive application forms or submission of numerous documents required for other card services.

All the user has to do is to download the mobile app in Google Play or Apple App Store, register and reload the instant virtual Visa card in any of the over 15,000 PayMaya centers nationwide that counts 7-Eleven convenience stores, SM Malls business centers, Robinsons Department Store business centers, Smart Padala agents, Smart Stores or via BDO Online banking and Smart Money.

PayMaya users can also opt to get a physical PayMaya Visa card that can be used for face-to-face transactions and ATM withdrawals. Aside from online shopping, PayMaya can also be used for peer-to-peer money transfers, airtime load purchase and soon, bills payments. PayMaya is a financial product approved and regulated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

“For the past weeks, PayMaya has overtaken more established and older apps offered by banks and financial services such as PayPal, BPI and GCash. Complemented by our efforts in Smart Money for mobile money and Smart Padala for remittance, PayMaya’s inclusive technology that enables usage regardless of telco or bank affiliation, is definitely boosting the country’s digital payments index,” said Orlando B. Vea, president of Smart eMoney, Inc., the digital financial services unit of PLDT and Smart.

Previously mobile money and digital financial transactions were restricted by the telco or bank affiliation of account holders. As a digital technology company, Smart eMoney, together with Voyager Innovations, is introducing over-the-top (OTT) platforms and solutions such as PayMaya. With the same approach, the companies are also expanding the reach of more established services Smart Money and Smart Padala while foraying into new fintech arenas such as digital payments security with LockByMobile and mobile consumer loans with Lendr.

According to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) e-Payment Readiness Index: Ecosystem Assessment and Status Report published recently by the Australian APEC Study Center at RMIT University and TRPC, the Philippines only ranked 18th out of 21 economies in the region in terms of readiness for e-payments.

“With a relatively long history in mobile payment services and a growing e-commerce market, the Philippines is primed to be a hotbed for e-payments. Yet, the APEC E-payment Index shows that the Philippines is still underdeveloped relative to its potential,” the report said. The Philippines scored ahead of only Peru, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea. Additionally, the study acknowledge high mobile penetration as a positive factor but cited improving ICT infrastructure security and access to formal financial systems as needing improvement.

The study measured scores across indicators and ranked APEC countries including the Philippines in terms of innovative products and services, regulatory and policy, information and communications technology and financial infrastructures, and demand. The Philippines ranked 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th is the respective categories. The Philippines comes out ahead of Indonesia and slightly behind Thailand for innovation.

Among the numerous factors cited by the study as among the impediments in e-payments adoption is the lack of interoperability between major mobile money services such as GCash and Smart Money, a case included in World Bank’s Infrastructure Challenges in the Philippines report earlier this year.

“We continue to work with the BSP as well as our partner financial institutions in addressing this challenge. As the innovations arm of PLDT and Smart, together with Voyager Innovations, we are addressing this the digital way. Anyone can use PayMaya, regardless of mobile number. Anyone in the Philippines can now also send money via Smart Padala to any mobile number. Our fintech products such as Lendr and LockByMobile can also be adopted as a solution by any bank or telco,” said Vea.

The APEC e-Payment Index study cites the country’s young growing population active in Internet and social media as a positive driver that can further improve ePayments adoption.

“This is the main market profile of PayMaya and most of our digital apps. We call this the ‘frontier’ market, a segment of the population with lower income but posed for high adoption because they are digital savvy. Millennials now compose a third of our population. In ive years, they will form half of the country’s workforce. This kind of market, combined with the rise of OTT digital financial products will definitely boost our e-Payment Index ranking,” added Vea.


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