Filipinos are more inclined to use digital payments for business purchases amid a broader shift to that payment channel due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, according to Visa, Inc.

“They are making purchases for business services, showing a shift in small business owners making eCommerce purchases for business related services,” Visa Country Manager for the Philippines and Guam Dan Wolbert said in an e-mail to BusinessWorld.

Mr. Wolbert said this trend is likely to remain as Filipinos come to terms with the convenience of digital payments for such purchases.

In terms of personal transactions, Mr. Wolbert said one out of four active Visa cardholders that did not shop online last year made digital purchases in the first half of the year, pointing to a pandemic-driven shift in buying habits.

“Top categories that Filipino Visa cardholders were purchasing include groceries, drugs and pharmaceutical goods and making bill payments for telecommunication services,” he said.

Mr. Wolbert said digital payments will remain a preferred option as consumers minimize physical contact while making purchases.

“We think that there will be a bigger focus on health and sanitation even after the pandemic,” he said.

Mr. Wolbert also cited a recent study from Visa indicating 70% of Filipinos have said they plan to stick to cashless payments even after COVID-19 and 73% said they expect to continue or increase their online spending as well when things normalize.

The Visa study also found that 42% of Filipinos prefer to pay using cards and mobile apps rather than cash.

The central bank hopes to bring the share of digital payments to 50% of all transactions by 2023.

E-payments comprised 10% of total transactions in 2018 by terms of volume from 1% in 2013, according to a report from the United Nations-backed Better than Cash Alliance. By value, digital transactions accounted for 20% of the total, rising from 8% in 2013. — Luz Wendy T. Noble