PLDT, Inc.’s mobile wallet arm PayMaya Philippines, Inc. expects significant growth in its customer base to continue this year.
“By the end of the year… we’ll have about six times more users both active and total users than we did at the beginning of the year… driven by more customer acquisition (and) more use cases,” PayMaya Philippines chief operating officer and managing director Paolo Azzola told reporters on Friday.
Mr. Azzola said in December last year there are 8 million users in PayMaya and Smart Money. The whole digital innovations group of PLDT, Voyager Innovations, Inc., is targeting to have 30 million users in its platforms by 2020.
Aside from PayMaya, Voyager also handles PLDT’s remittance network Smart Padala, online loaning platform Lendr, financial technology arm FINTQ, and free mobile browsing app Freenet.
In October, PLDT announced it signed an agreement with Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) to acquire $175 million worth of shares in Voyager.
The company’s chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said earlier this month they’re only waiting for World Bank sister organization International Finance Corp. (IFC) to decide on increasing its investment size in Voyager before they close the deal, which is expected by the end of November. Once they finalize the agreement, Mr. Pangilinan said PLDT’s stake in Voyager would shrink to about 48%.
Mr. Azzola noted the foreign investors trust the leadership of Voyager President and Chief Executive Officer Orlando B. Vea and his management team, which is important in keeping the company’s strategies and vision intact.
“The whole point of getting these guys onboard is not just because of the money. It’s because of the fact that they know how to run companies like ours. We know our company and people, they can help us refine the outlook the way that we run the company and their market experience,” he said.
Mr. Azzola also said that moving forward, they plan to expand PayMaya’s services beyond quick response (QR) payments. He noted they are still “scratching the surface” and have gotten to only 1% of their QR rollout.
“We’re not here to rollout just QR. We’re here to provide digital financial services to everyone in the Philippines. So for us, if QR is the best thing for a particular user base in a particular space, we will roll it out. But I don’t want to just say roll out, just QR to everyone… when I know that it’s not what they really need or want,” he said.
He added the company plans to further boost other uses for the mobile wallet such as online shopping, bills payment and sending money.
Last year, PayMaya Philippines started a partnership with Facebook to allow its customers use the Facebook Messenger app for various transactions such as money transfer. Mr. Azzola said they plan to launch more projects in partnership with Facebook, aside from deals with quick service restaurants.
Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez