Visa Inc. is looking at increasing its presence in the Philippines’ unbanked sector by offering new and affordable means of cashless transactions, seen to boost the economy.
People often give me puzzled looks when I try to describe my job here, and I don’t blame them. Since 2015 I have worked on an international development program that supports the Philippines’ shift from a cash-based economy to a cash-light economy, which will improve the livelihoods of Filipinos by getting more people involved in the formal economy.
Mert Tangonan is the chief of party of USAID’s E-PESO activity in the Philippines. E-PESO seeks to accelerate the shift toward digital payments for broad-based economic growth and financial inclusion in the Philippines.
MAKATI, Philippines – The rising internet and smartphone penetration, coupled with the rapid adoption for mobile shopping has made venturing to e-commerce the ideal catalyst for success among businesses operating in the Philippines.
In a bid to accelerate local e-commerce growth, PesoPay, the leading online payment gateway in the country, now offers a new payment plan that allows start-ups and SMEs to easily apply for a merchant account and process card payments online.
For the uninitiated, a merchant account is a type of business bank account that enables businesses to accept credit and debit card transactions online. Unfortunately, getting such an account is no small feat. In addition to a security deposit of ₱500,000, majority of banks require merchants to have at least one (1) year of profitable business operation in order to be eligible. On top of that, merchant account holders must also maintain a monthly minimum sales volume of ₱150,000 to keep the account.
These prerequisites leave merchants with no choice but to provide only alternative payment methods like cash and e-wallets to their customers to complete online transactions. Sadly, credit cards remain as one of the preferred payment methods for online shopping among Filipino Millennials. As such, this situation hinders most businesses from fully maximizing their sales potential.
Leveling the e-commerce playing field
“Large-scale enterprises have no problem adhering to these requirements, but how about new entrants to e-commerce? With a limited capital at hand and less than a year in operations, these businesses will ultimately be left out of the e-commerce scene without a proper solution,” said AsiaPay Philippines Associate Director Mau San Andres.
“Through a collaboration with BDO, we are now offering a Basic Plan which promises to deliver a streamlined on-boarding process, competitive pricing rates, and simpler bank requirements for startups and SMEs,” Mr. San Andres explained.
The PesoPay Basic Plan operates under the so-called “Payment Facilitator” model in which AsiaPay Philippines will process credit card payments on behalf of merchants. The payments are first collected into one central account and later disbursed respectively to each merchant account. In such cases, AsiaPay acts as the “Master Merchant” whereas online businesses are referred to as “Sub-Merchants”.
With this setup, entrepreneurs and small merchants can now facilitate VISA and MasterCard payments on their website without complying with the aforementioned bank requirements. Furthermore, businesses can also get their merchant accounts in as fast a 2 weeks upon complete submission of all required documents. All payments are settled locally; hence merchants would never have to pay for cross-border transaction fees that are normally charged in other payment platforms.
“Applying for a merchant account used to be an impossible task for many new and small businesses. Now, these businesses have a chance to compete against bigger players with PesoPay serving as their equalizer to thrive online,” Mr. San Andres added.
The conference organized by ADB in collaboration with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and ADB Institute (ADBI), aims to bring together policy makers, financial sector supervisors and regulators, financial institutions, FinTech companies, academia, as well as financial sector experts to discuss opportunities and challenges in digital finance and to identify how multilateral development banks such as ADB can support in this development by financing digital technology and transformation projects.