MANILA - The Philippines lags Southeast Asia in terms of cashless transactions, even as majority of Filipinos prefer it because of safety and convenience, according to a VISA study.
In 2016, 9 percent of personal consumption expenditures were done through credit and debit cards, compared to 50 percent in Singapore and 30 percent in Malaysia and 16 percent in Thailand, the study showed.
The results highlighted the challenges to financial inclusion in the Philippines as well as a slow internet connections.
"When you have a low bank population, you have a low population of electronic payments too," said Stuart Tomlinson, VISA country manager for the Philippines and Guam.
"We see a huge opportunity as a VisaNet study showed that 6 in every 10 Filipinos prefer using electronic payments as they think having cards is safer and more convenient than bringing cash," he said.
According to the Bangko Sentral's 2016 Financial Inclusion Initiatives report, 63.8 percent of cities and municipalities in the country have banking presence.
"For contactless (payment systems) to take off, it needs to be driven by large, everyday purchases such as from supermarkets, petrol stations," Tomlinson said.
The banking industry is "investing heavily" in contactless payments and is convincing more retailers to install technology that would allow "tap and go" payment schemes, he said.