'Philippines in best position for financial inclusion'

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at May 27 2014 06:49 AM | Updated as of May 27 2014 02:49 PM

Matthew Driver, president of MasterCard for Southeast Asia, speaks at the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Makati. Photo by Sikarin Thanachaiary, World Economic Forum

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is in the best position to develop electronic financial services for payment technology companies like Mastercard, its president for Southeast Asia Matthew Driver said.

According to Driver, talks of inclusive growth in the Southeast Asia region will help broaden opportunities for low-income segments to gain access to financial services and products.

“The interesting thing here is that there is a lot of dialogue about inclusive growth. We look here in the Philippines, the Philippines is really in the best position of all these countries to start to do some really exciting stuff in this area,” he said in an interview on ANC’s “Inside Business.”

Driver said the Philippines has implemented several procedures and regulations that welcome financial inclusion.

“They have the right kind of regulatory point of view, they have developed progressive money laundering KYC [know your money] procedures that are already out there, they have created e-money licensing for MNOs [mobile network operators] and other institutions,” said Driver.

“There are a lot of factors here that means that where you are going to make a difference, is in a market like the Philippines,” he added.

Driver said 2.5 billion people in the world are still “financially excluded,” defined as those who are “underserved or completely unbanked.”

“If they are able to get access to financial services, they are able to better provide for their families, and create more of a livelihood. Electronic financial services are a key part of being able to serve those customers with low cost solutions that can make a difference for them,” he said.

Driver also highlighted the importance of technology’s role in financial inclusion.

“The critical thing is convergence of technology, the mobile phone coming together with e-commerce, all moving towards what we call a ‘world beyond plastic,’” he said.