In my household where there are five adults and one teenager, ecommerce deliveries are an everyday sight. May it be foodstuff, clothing, or trinket deliveries, for sure we have used any of the popular ewallet (electronic wallet or mobile wallet) apps in paying for the goods and shipping fee, and even giving a tip to the delivery man.
I also noticed that before even proceeding with the transaction from ecommerce sellers, we ask if they have an ewallet facility for payment; otherwise, we look for other sellers that can accept such mode of payment. This puts pressure to micro, small and medium enterprises to adopt ewallets in order to accommodate more buyers like us.
The massive growth of ecommerce in the Philippines during the pandemic propelled the adoption of ewallets during the last three years. The ecommerce market is projected to reach $20.18billion in 2022, growing by more than 17 percent according to Statista. Accordingly, the projected ecommerce volume in 2025 is $32.70 billion, indicating the continued online buying behavior of the Filipinos. This does not include the online transactions happening across seller and buyers in other platforms such as Facebook marketplace or Viber groups.
That’s why GCash, in May 2022 reported that it has more that 60 million registered users nationwide, while PayMaya reported 47+ million registered users in April 2022. If we follow their growth trajectory, there’s probably more than 120 million combined users of these ewallets nationwide. This is coming from a low pre-pandemic combined user base of over 40 million users – a threefold jump.
All these jibes well with the 2021 Financial Inclusion Survey (FIS) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which revealed that 60 percent of those with mobile phones and internet access in 2021 performed financial transactions online, such as fund transfers and payments, jumping from 17 percent in 2019. The survey also showed that the number of Filipino adults with financial accounts increased from 20.9 million in 2019 to 42.9 million in 2021, growing by more than double.
The e-wallet revolution is not confirmed to the Philippines, but a global one. According to TABInsights as published in The Asian banker, mobile wallets will reach 2.6 billion users in Asia Pacific by 2025, growing threefold from 2020 levels. Mobile wallets growth in Asean will be led by Singapore (222 percent), followed by Indonesia (218 percent), Malaysia (217 percent), Philippines (207 percent) and Thailand (202 percent). The report revealed that businesses are tapping into this vast market as mobile wallets gain an increasing share of the payments market. The drivers for this growth are the evolving consumer behaviour that forces the payments industry to switch to cashless solutions, the use of biometrics and two-factor authentication enhances that safety features of mobile wallets, and the regulatory initiatives of the mobile wallet industry will lead to greater standardisation and interoperability.
Apart from the ecommerce push among MSMEs, millennials and Generation Zs are a driving force behind ewallet adoption. Comprising 70 percent of the Philippine population, these cohorts drive the use of ewallets for several reasons.
One is obviously due to the convenience and flexibility ewallets bring. Another is that ewallets give users the chance to check their balances regularly, which millennials regularly do. These also offer loyalty programs, special offers, and coupons which the younger generations look for. Millennials also use ewallets to lend, payback, or split bills with their friends, family, or co-workers.
The Philippine government is likewise providing impetus for the continued growth of ewallet users. The BSP recently launched the Open Finance Roadmap 2021-2024 which ‘outlines priority actions, including the adoption of the policy framework, capacity-building for regulation, and cooperative oversight. “The framework sees customers as owners of their transaction data, which can be shared if they wish to do so. With more data shared, financial institutions and third-party players are incentivized to adopt a customer-centric product development cycle”, according to BSP. This will lead to interoperability among players and to more customer-centric services that will spur the development in and growth of financial inclusion in general, and the continued increase in the adoption of ewallets.
But ewallets players are continuously improving the customer experience in using the app and adding more product features to spur adoption and usage. Apart from paying bills and money transfers, they also offer other features such as booking flights, shopping online, buying movie tickets and games, and even investing one’s money. GCash not only offers the capability to buy insurance but also, recently, the ability to trade stocks.
Ewallets will not replace cold cash, but it’s sure to propel the Philippines to reach its P5 trillion digital economy potential by 2030.
The author is CEO of Hungry Workhorse Consulting, a digital and culture transformation consulting firm. He is Institute Fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation. He teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. The author may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org