The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) has stressed the need for the government to facilitate faster and strategic roll-out of information, communication and technology (ICT) infrastructure in order to create more economic opportunities and meet the growing demand for structures and services, particularly in underserved areas.
Neda director-general Ernesto Pernia told the Asia Pacific Forum 2017 on Thursday, Nov. 23, that the Philippines could further improve its world ranking in terms of readiness to support online shopping and business-to-consumer electronic commerce.
According to the 2016 data of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Philippines ranked 89th out of 137 countries worldwide in terms of readiness to support online shopping and other business-to-consumer electronic commerce.
The Philippines ranked 71st globally in the 2016 United Nations e-government development index with a 38.81-percent increase in the online service index and 54.67-percent increase in the Telecommunications Infrastructure Index, according to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
“ICT plays an important role in the everyday lives of Filipinos, an effective tool for nation-building and the power to foster inclusivity, enable security and efficiency, as well as strengthen connections between individuals, communities, and sectors,” said Pernia.
Pernia noted that in a recent discussion on digital economy of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), massive open online courses on both website and mobile platform were introduced to strengthen the framework for the digital economy, capacitate consumers and improve the digital literacy and empowerment of individuals particularly in the fields of financial literacy, economic empowerment, education, and health.
The use of technology to support financial services also known as fintech is seen to bridge the gap between banks and the unbanked and underserved markets. The 2017-2018 fintech report of Voyager and FinTQ by PLDT shows that majority of borrowers who access FinTQ’s digital platforms are from the provinces despite the concentration of financial services in Metro Manila.
Pernia stressed that digital technology has the greatest potential in transforming the financial landscape in the Philippines.
“The growth of the Internet and increased mobile penetration increase access to financial institutions especially for those who live in rural areas,” he added.
He cited a good example the collaboration of FinTQ with Camalig Bank in Catanduanes where digital lending was introduced to teachers and personnel of local government units (LGUs) via the online platform Lendr.
“FinTQ and Camalig Bank were able to disburse a loan amount of at least P15 million to qualified individuals in several towns of Catanduanes through online transactions, eliminating the need to physically appear in the bank.”
Pernia said the fintech revolution reforms the finance world in terms of helping not only the financial and non-financial institutions but more significantly customers and the large economy.
“Fintech services in the Philippines enable traditional banks to bring efficient and affordable financial services to the unbanked and underserved through mobile money, digital lending, regulatory technology, insurance technology, digital payments, micro savings, micro investments, digital remittance, and other mobile-based technologies,” he said.