Money you can't touch: Filipinos ease into cashless, digital wallets

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2019 10:29 AM | Updated as of Nov 18 2019 01:33 PM

MANILA – Accounting staff Abellaine Naquita thought she lost P50,000 in her digital wallet, giving her anxiety and sleepless nights until she got the answer from the customer helpline: she breached the transaction limit.

The 34-year-old mother of one, who confessed to being a social media recluse, said she didn't have to go through the ordeal had she read the discussions about the transaction cap on GCash's online forums.

As digital wallets like GCash and PayMaya and online shopping platforms like Shopee and Lazada make the case for a cashless future, Filipinos, especially those who are not too digital-savvy, seek reassurance that the platforms are safe.

"Lahat ng oras na wala akong ginagawa sa work, nakagugol sa pagtawag or pagchat sa kanila. Inaabot ako ng madaling araw katatawag. Nagkasakit ako kakaisip," Naquita told ABS-CBN News.

(All the time I was at work, I spent it calling them and chatting with them. I was calling until the wee hours. I got worried sick.)

The money was remitted from Japan via Western Union and failed to reflect in her mobile wallet despite her receipt of a notification that the transaction was successful. The GCash customer care hotline resolved her complaint in 4 days.

"Sa akin, research lang siguro. Kung nagbasa-basa siguro ko nung araw na nag-cash-in ako, na-prevent sana 'yung nangyari. Di kasi ko masyado nagso-social media. Eh doon pala maraming announcements at comments sa app," she said.

(I should have researched some more. Had I read up on the day I cashed in, I could have prevented what happened. I'm not too much into social media, that's where the app announcements are made.) 

GCash, a joint venture between China's Alibaba and Globe Telecom unit Mynt, guarantees a response within 24 hours and a 7-day window for investigations of complaints forwarded through its app and website. 

"What cash brings is the idea of security because its within our hands, nasa kamay ko eh, so how can we replicate the same feeling of security within a digital product? Right now that’s the challenge,” said GCash chief customer officer Chris Manguera.

"At the end of the day, what we’re trying to address is the anxiety of customers, safe ba talaga to? Now we’re telling them 'safe talaga 'yan," he said.

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GCash chief customer officer Chris Manguera demonstrates the GCash app to ABS-CBN News.


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GCash guarantees up to P100,000 refund for proven unauthorized transactions. Screengrab

GCash guarantees up to P100,000 cash back for unauthorized transactions in fully verified accounts, or those that submit required IDs, Manguera said.

"Account takeover, if ma-hack ang GCash mo, we’re not saying it’s possible, but when it happens, in the case that it happens, you’re guaranteed that your money is safe with us because the question is security," he said.

GCash is working to make complaint resolution easier and faster, he said.

Rival PayMaya invests in people to ensure "that problem's don't arise in the first place," its COO Paolo Azzola said, adding that half of its 700-strong workforce are engineers.

"That helps us not only produce great features for our customers but also make sure that that back-end of the platform is solid and secure," Azzola said. ​

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PayMaya COO Paolo Azzola. ABS-CBN News

Disputes are dealt with in accordance to the guidelines set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Money acquired through fraudulent means are guaranteed to be returned once investigations prove that the customers were victimized, PayMaya said. 

Complaints should be addressed to its chatbot on Facebook, its customer service hotline or its email address. The chatbot, PayMaya Cares, has been upgraded 4 times, he said.

"If they don’t hear back from you, if you don’t let them know that you’re hearing what the problem is and that you’re actually fixing it then they would think that you’re not working on it," Azzola said. 

Naquita, the accounting staff, said she would continue transacting cashless, especially for bills payment. Digital wallet platforms, should also resolve complaints faster, she said.

"Pakiayos po ang working procedures niyo. Kawawa po ang mga frontliners niyo pag walang maisagot. At saka po pakibilisan naman ang aksyon di ba?" she said.

(Fix your working procedures. I pity your frontliners when they don't have anything to say. Act faster, too.)