How to pay digital in malls without a credit card

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2018 09:27 AM

Marked down items are displayed at a Robinsons Mall. The Gokongwei-run mall chain is offering access to digital financing inside its stores using its own Cashalo app. Photo from Robinsons Malls Facebook page

MANILA -- Cashalo, the Gokongwei group's financial technology venture, said it was offering mall shoppers without credit cards access to on the spot financing in time for the Christmas shopping rush.

Cashacart, on pilot testing in the group's own Robinsons Malls, allows shoppers to choose items in physical stores and pay for up to P10,000 using the Cashalo app. Installment schemes for up to 24 months are available.

With this setup, Cashalo aims to tap consumers who still prefer to buy things offline, said Geoffrey Prentice, co-founder of Oriente, JG Summit's partner for the financial technology app.

"We’re more focused on digitizing and not just online. We want to work with the store and digitize the process," said Prentice, who also co-founded Skype.

"We want people to buy goods, not just get cash online," he told ABS-CBN News.

Cashalo's Cashacart interface

Shopping malls are an enduring presence in Philippine retail, where consumers go to shop, dine, see movies, transact with government and even hear mass.

Two of the country's richest men are shopping mall tycoons. John Gokongwei has Robinsons Malls while Henry Sy founded the larger SM chain.

With credit card penetration estimated at below 10 percent, online retailers are offering more payment schemes such as cash on delivery.

They have also partnered with brick and mortar stores or established "pop-up" stores or physical pick-up points for items bought offline.

Cashalo general manager Hamilton Angluben said the company hoped to give more Filipinos access to formal credit.

"We migrate them to fully online experience. Not only are we being financially inclusive we are doing our part in terms of digital inclusivity in the country," he told ABS-CBN News.

Filipinos spend P7,000 to P8,000 on average using Cashacart to purchase appliances. The platform now has 30,000 loan approvals per month, from just 1,000 in May, he said.

Knowing where the borrower will spend the money using the Cashacart scheme, Angluben said the chances of getting the loan approved would be higher.

Loan products from platforms like Cashalo are unlikely to be affected by rising interest rates, Prentice said.

Like Skype, Cashalo earns from growing its user base and not by imposing higher costs to users, he said.