How prepaid cards are driving financial inclusion in the Philippines and the challenges ahead

With 69% of its population with no access to financial services, and 96% of transactions still conducted in cash in the country, the Philippines is one of the lesser developed nations in terms of digital payments in Asia Pacific.

However, these figures are improving thanks to mobile wallets and, in particular, prepaid cards.

Reloadable cards are helping unbanked Filipinos pay for goods now more than ever before, and prepaid is becoming more and more important in the drive for financial inclusion, as well as being an essential tool for people to access the $38.2bn of remittances that flowed into the Philippines last year – the third highest in the world and 9.9% of the country’s GDP.

For the financial services industry, the challenge now lies in how to continue to push prepaid to the unbanked population to lessen its reliance on cash, and also how to make topping up these cards convenient in a country where more than half its people live in rural areas.