Cash is still king in the Philippines, and there’s still a bit of a way to go in changing mindsets on how we do our transactions. But at least, in recent years, more Filipinos are starting to shift to electronic payments as a safer and more convenient alternative to using cash for their purchases.
“The Philippines is still mainly a cash economy, but that’s also a reflection of the challenges of financial inclusion—a low bank population will also result in low usage of electronic payments,” said Mastercard country manager Rowell del Fierro.
“Growth for cashless transactions will come from gaining confidence in using cards for regular, small purchases and personal expenses,” he continued. “We’re still lagging behind in that compared to other countries in SEA like Singapore or Malaysia.”
Despite this, Rowell remains optimistic. “Filipinos are showing receptiveness for cashless transactions. Having a large young, digitally-savvy and socially-engaged population is also driving the appetite for technology that provides convenience and security,” he explained.
These same factors are also pushing the growth of e-commerce, as more people realize its advantages, including convenience and access to a wide range of goods and brands from around the world without these even being physically available in the country.
The 2017 Mastercard Online Shopping Survey showed that in Asia Pacific, nine in 10 consumers have made an online purchase in the last three months, while eight in 10 who shopped online the previous year intend to make at least one online purchase in the first half of 2017. Mastercard’s 2017 Mobile Shopping Survey meanwhile revealed that consumers in the Philippines top the region with the highest year-on-year growth in mobile shopping at 12.6 percent over the past year.
Addressing security concerns
Safety and security, according to del Fierro, remain an important factor for consumers. In fact, 92.2 percent of Filipinos feel that secure payment facilities remain the most critical factor for them to make online purchases.
“A primary barrier in Filipinos’ hesitation in going cashless with their transactions is the gap in consumer education, which Mastercard is trying to help address, especially on concerns of safety and security,” del Fierro explained. “What’s important is educating consumers on digital payments and their benefits. And how these aren’t limited to credit cards alone. Mastercard payment cards, which we can use for purchases, include debit cards—which is what you most likely have from your payroll or personal bank account. Banks also issue prepaid cards, which typically allow you to spend only what you’ve loaded onto the card and these are either for one-time use or reloadable.”
Del Fierro assured that there are security tools that ensure your safety when using a Mastercard, one of which is the use of the EMV chip technology, a global standard that was mandated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) earlier this year.
“The entire process of electronic payments contains several layers for security including identity verification and card authentication with your issuing bank, to a clearing and settlement phase that takes up to two days to ensure that the amount you get charged is accurate. There are additional protection features can be availed as well for online electronic payments,” he said.
Cardholders can also ask their banks about Mastercard SecureCode or One-Time-Password—a unique passcode sent to your registered mobile number which you use to proceed with an online transaction. Cardholders must also actively take steps to be more aware and informed as this will allow them to become more confident in using cards for their transactions.
“What Mastercard aims is to have positivity paired with protection and self-awareness, particularly during periods when spending is at its peak, like the Christmas season. When spending is high, so are the associated risks, and people would benefit from knowing how to keep their transactions secure,” del Fierro added.
Perks of using Mastercard
The most obvious benefit of using your Mastercard is that it’s safer and more convenient than cash. For one, using your card lets you bypass the risk and hassle of carrying cash in crowded places, and that’s a legitimate concern during busy periods, particularly during the holiday rush.
“If you’re prepared to pay in cash for your purchases, use your debit card instead. It’s essentially plastic cash that draws the funds directly from your bank account. The difference is you do not have to join the long ATM lines to withdraw and then risk carrying that cash around,” del Fierro pointed out.
Monitoring, he added, is easier. Payments made in cash are not traceable or recoverable whereas card transactions can be easily monitored and recorded in your monthly statement. Plus, there are multiple checks and balances in place, which are designed to be smart and secure for consumers.
And if you prefer to avoid the Christmas crowd of shoppers, you can also easily shop online using your Mastercard, given the rising prominence of e-commerce in the country. Shopping online—whether you’re using a mobile phone, a laptop, or a tablet—allows you to gain access to a wide range of goods and brands without having to leave home; compare prices, and check out easier. You can also load your ride-sharing apps or book flights, accommodations, and activities online, hassle-free using your Mastercard. What’s more is that using Mastercard gives you access to exclusive offers and discounts, thus making your shopping and traveling experiences even more rewarding, del Fierro added.
Indeed, there are far too many reasons for you to not ignore the many benefits of using a Mastercard—which will prove to be your handy, reliable partner, particularly this Christmas as you go shopping for gifts for your loved ones or as you book your travels for that much-needed quality time with families and friends.
“There’s no need to worry about having cash on hand, and it allows you to bypass the likely long lines at the ATM if you are doing your shopping at the stores. Mastercard also has a number of exclusive offers and discounts that cardholders can avail, in-store and online, and those aren’t limited to fashion or beauty items, but also travel promotions,” del Fierro said.
He further pointed out that cards are globally accepted, so if you travel overseas and even do your shopping there, you can be confident about your transactions because they are safe and secure. You also wouldn’t have a need to change to the local currency. And if you do find a need for having cash, you don’t have to bring it with since you can withdraw at the ATM at your destination.
“More importantly, it helps provide peace of mind by knowing one’s transactions are safe and secure, allowing you to spend more time with the people and things that matter the most this season,” he added.
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