More and more Filipinos now prefer digital finance over offline or in-person transactions with around 80% saying that they will continue using fintech services even after the ongoing pandemic. While many Filipinos are already embracing the use of technology for their everyday finances (from paying bills to managing investment portfolios), some still have strong opposition to these new norms of transacting.
Almost half (47%) of the Philippines’ adult population remains unbanked, and many of them can potentially access digital financial services through their mobile phones. In 2021, around 83% of newly-opened accounts are via electronic money services (e-money accounts).
I had the chance of interviewing Earl Melivo, Country Director for the Philippines of WorldRemit, and according to him, it is the spirit of simplicity and accessibility that will drive even more Filipinos to digital finance. Melivo talked about how WorldRemit made digital remittances as accessible as possible, ensuring the transaction and interaction with technology are simple to ensure users can easily connect to their loved ones back home in the digital age.
WorldRemit was established in 2010 and is currently a leading global payments company that disrupted an industry previously dominated by offline legacy players by taking international money transfers online — making them safer, faster, and at a lower cost. The company currently caters to people in over 130 countries and operates in more than 5,000 money transfer corridors worldwide while employing around 1,500 people globally.
On the sending side, WorldRemit is 100% digital (cashless), increasing convenience and enhancing security. For those receiving money, the company offers a wide range of options including bank deposit, cash collection, mobile airtime top-up, and mobile money.
“Since we first allowed transfers to the Philippines in 2011, WorldRemit users globally have already sent billions of dollars to the Philippines. As of 2021, WorldRemit continues to grow its volumes to the Philippines significantly, retaining it as one of our largest receive markets, globally. For the coming months, WorldRemit will be strategically launching new services to Filipino users and will continue to expand our Philippine payout network, aside from our current initiatives to further improve our customer platforms to provide better value and the most competitive price points for our senders,” said Melivo when I asked him to describe their current operations in the country.
Here’s the rest of my interview with WorldRemit’s Country Director here in the Philippines:
Bob: “How does WorldRemit intend to compete in the Philippine money transfer/mobile payments space given that there are already several players at present (most operate as digital banks, too)?”
Melivo: “We at WorldRemit understand that in times of economic uncertainties, access to financial services, particularly remittances, is crucial. And so we have established a robust payout network of more than 100 banks, leading mobile wallet services, and 25,000 cash pick-up locations in the Philippines, providing customers the flexibility to send (from abroad) and receive (for the families of OFWs) however they prefer. WorldRemit simply connects Senders abroad to their families here in the Philippines by allowing the most convenient and cost-effective ways of sending the much-needed remittances. This will always be our core focus as a company. However, we ought to continue to further build our services through current and future strategic partnerships with banks and other financial services providers, even beyond remittances.”
Bob: “What advantage can WorldRemit offer over the competition?”
Melivo: “WorldRemit is proud to have one of the most robust remittance payout networks in the Philippines. Over the last 10 years, we’ve built strong relationships with banks and non-bank payout partners that enable our sending customers to transfer money from 50+ countries (including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, EU countries, New Zealand, and others) to accounts at more than 100 banks (including all major Philippine banks and the new generation of digital-only banks), to 4 major mobile wallet services (GCash, Paymaya, ShopeePay, and GrabPay), cash pick up by recipients at more than 25,000 locations (of payments, bank branches, and payment centers) and top up any prepaid mobile number in the country. And since WorldRemit is a fully digital service having proprietary platforms (web: www.worldremit.com and app, available for Android and IOS users), we enable such transfers to the Philippines 24×7 – securely, reliably, and most importantly, in a cost-effective manner for both our senders and recipients.”
Bob: “What are the future plans of WorldRemit for their Philippine operations?”
Melivo: “The consistent focus for the company has always been to further improve its platforms, network, and service, and to always provide a best-in-class money transfer experience for our customers (both Senders and their Recipients), globally. To do this, WorldRemit will continue to improve its user experience and consistently find ways to further create value for our customers. WorldRemit will also continue to maintain its physical presence in the country through our biggest office (globally, by headcount) in Cebu where we house hundreds of our staff. We are fully committed to contributing to the Philippine economy, not just through our remittance service but also directly by adding more jobs in the country, through our continuous hiring of Filipino talents.”