The Philippines remains a mainly cash-based society, however efforts from the Philippine government and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country’s central bank, mean that cash is being challenged by the rapid growth of e-commerce.
The efforts are part of the government’s financial inclusion plan; in which pawnshops, electronic money issuers, banking offices, microfinance providers and remittance agents are being selected to provide access to financial services in underprivileged areas. One of the main obstacles for e-commerce in the Philippines, along with a high unbanked population, is a lack of public awareness around electronic payments. The initiative, which encourages the rise in number of payment cards in circulation, means that card transaction volume and e-commerce payments are anticipated to rise.
Despite the obstacles, e-commerce is still overarchingly one of the fastest growing markets in the Philippines, increasing from $1.20bn in 2014 to $3.16bn in 2018. Financial institutions have been offering cards intended solely for the purpose of online payments, as well as virtual cards for online shopping that have transactions secured by a one-time online password. Some institutions have even captialised on this growth and further encouraged e-commerce by offering incentives too, such as reward points for money spent online shopping.