Nov 2021

Is Cash Still King? The Rise of Digital Payments in the Philippines

Back in 2019, most transactions were carried out in person. Naturally, cash was the go-to, but as every story goes: the pandemic changed that. Having cash went from the norm to somewhat of a liability, and digital payments are now seen as the safer, more ideal option for transactions.

Going Digital

Over the past 2 years, the digital adoption in the county has continued to expand throughout a multitude of fields. The rise of digital payments such as online bank transfers and e-wallets like GCash and PayMaya shed light on the various ways one can carry out transactions. Many began using digital payment gateways during the pandemic because it provided them with a reason to shift to using these platforms, specifically for to safety and health protocols. Many people worried about their health, most interactions (including buying and selling) were coursed online, and making use of digital payment platforms gave them their peace of mind that they would not have to take as much risks as they would with cash payments.

The Potential of E-wallets and E-Cash

While 51.2 million Filipinos remain unbanked in the Philippines, digital wallets are gaining traction — and they're gaining it fast. Digital wallets like GCash and PayMaya open a gateway to solve financial inclusion challenges, especially in the Philippines where having cash outside their wallet is a privilege to most. The only resources one would need to open up an e-wallet is their mobile number and valid ID to gain access to additional services. With this being said, e-wallets are continuously booming with the number of users they obtain, and venture out to providing more services not only to their users, but to businesses as well. At this point, several e-wallets allow bill payments, loans, investments, and even insurance to be coursed and purchased through their platforms.

Widely Used

The number of digital payments made everyday continues to grow with the increase of transactions made online. Most of these payments are made up of individuals making frequent purchases that usually are of low-value, like merchant payments. While individuals make up majority of those making digital payments, businesses and governments facilities are also more open to carrying out and accepting digital payments.

Booming from the Budols

12.12, Christmas, and new year's sales are coming! Consumers and merchants have contributed greatly to the adoption of digital payments, especially with the rise of e-commerce transactions. Previously, consumers were only provided with payment options such as credit card payments or cash on deliver. Today, users now have more than enough options on payment gateways such as bank transfers, e-wallets like GrabPay, ShopeePay, PayMaya, GCash, and even installment options like SPayLater. All those Shopee and Lazada sales we see around just mean more and more digital transactions made. Many also prefer digital payment options on e-commerce platforms due to it being easier for them in comparison to the cash on delivery option.

No more guessing

These digital platforms also allow people see exactly how much they were spending without the chance of being slightly off due to some misplaced bills or coins. E-wallets provide their users with an automatic paper trail to the user. What does that mean? For anyone using a money management app, remember all those times where you'd forget what, and how much exactly you spent for that day (especially for those little purchases such as candy or gum)? Well, e-wallets solve these for their users by automating the collection of these information, all without having to recall it from their own memory.

Cash is classic

Now, don't get us wrong. Cash isn't out of the race. Not all establishments support digital payments, making cash a still necessity in these cases. Along with that, having cash on hand is still important in case of emergencies or unforeseen situation like when you're on a trip and you need to get a quick bite to eat, or when GCash is ongoing maintenance and you have to pay for your haircut immediately, it's always practical to keep cash on hand at all times.

What's next?

Needless to say, cash is not exactly king anymore, but it's not out of the picture either (will it ever be?). The pandemic brought about changes in people's behavior. It's changed the way people work, travel, attend school, shop, interact, and most importantly, how they handle their money. Both cash and digital payments continue to serve people well nowadays, but with the recent (and unexpected) changes COVID-19 brought about to many individual's lives, who knows what changes lie just around the corner?