'Online-first' habit boosts e-payments, cross-border trade: PayPal

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 17 2020 06:00 AM

A Filipino consumer using his mobile phone to shop for essentials during the community quarantine period in the Philippines. Alex Corpuz, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Consumers worldwide have adopted an "online-first" shopping habit out of safety and necessity, boosting e-commerce businesses, e-payment systems and cross-border trades, global financial firm PayPal said. 

Shoppers in Southeast Asia are likely to remain cautious even after the pandemic is contained and are also inclined to lean on contactless means for their needs, PayPal Senior Director and Head of Sales in Southeast Asia Rajkishore Agrawal told ABS-CBN News.

"Online sales were booming well before COVID-19 and will likely increase now due to new online-first shopping habits formed during this time," Agrawal said.

"With the stay-at-home culture brought by COVID-19, reports have shown that consumers in SEA countries will remain cautious when national lockdowns are lifted and will lean to contactless payment options like e-payments and digital wallet apps," he added.

E-payments boost

As shoppers move online, businesses have no choice but to also intensify their digital presence to remain relevant. With the pivot to digital, many of them need e-payment platforms to do business.

Payment system is crucial in e-commerce businesses, PayPal said, as those without a preferred payment method could lose 21 percent of their sales.

PayPal said it posted its "strongest user growth on record" in the second quarter with 21.3 million new net active accounts. 

"Businesses go where the consumers go. So as consumers move online, so too have many businesses," Agrawal said.

"The pandemic has definitely shifted shopping to the web. Many online retailers gained new business as shoppers were urged to stay home and many brick and mortar stores temporarily closed," Agrawal said.

PayPal said e-commerce, which has been rapidly growing even before the pandemic, was projected to grow to $150 billion by 2025.

For firms looking to do business online, PayPal shared an insight from a 2019 study that said that the highest-spending audiences wanted to purchase through mobile but only 63 percent of businesses are optimized for such devices.
Market places such as Alibaba have expanded to a wider market. Alibaba, for example, has also invested $4 billion in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Lazada Philippines CEO Rey Alimurung earlier said.

With the rise of digital transactions, security has been a concern for consumers, the platform said. Shoppers tend to trust financial services that offer data encryption, prevent fraud and provide better protection, it said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked the growth of the digital economy in Southeast Asia by at least 5 years, Facebook Philippines country lead for Business Growth Akshat Jain during the virtual DIGICON OMNI 2020, citing a study.

Aside from essentials, consumers now turn to digital for payments, medicine, online learning as well as entertainment through music and video streaming.