Why Filipinos find it hard to trust cashless payments

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2019 07:03 AM

FILE PHOTO: A staff at a money changer counts peso and dollar bills at their counter in Quezon City, Monday, July 2, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Filipinos' fear of money that they cannot hold physically is hampering growth in cashless payments in the country, a financial technology provider said.

In the third quarter of 2018, the number of electronic payment agents rose 142.8 percent to 63,195 but the number of e-payment accounts dropped to 8.6 million, from the 11.4 million in the previous year, data from the Bangko Sentral's Financial Inclusion Survey showed.

"Tangibility, that is the friction. Sometimes, I don't trust mobile enough because I can't hold it like a scratch card," William Yu, MDi chief technology officer, told ABS-CBN News.

"People really want to hold the money. It is this friction that causes the difficulty in the adoption of mobile money," he said.

Some banks have put up digital branches, while others waived transaction fees to make mobile transactions more convenient, but Filipinos are not yet used to the concept of going cashless, he said.

"We have to give the market time to get used to the availability of that," said Yu, whose company helped develop mobile payment channels in the Philippines.

Educating the market and easing requirements to open electronic accounts could encourage more Filipinos to go cashless, he said.

Several banks have adopted zero balance schemes, while other e-money providers launched prepaid electronic cash cards to convert more Filipinos to cashless payments, after a 2016 study showed the Philippines lagged behind its regional peers in the shift to the cashless system.