VISA, INC. sees growth in the adoption of electronic payments in the Philippines, although infrastructure and access continue to be challenges.
Shabab Muhaddes, Visa’s head of product for Indonesia and the Philippines, said the firm will continue to push for more electronic payment channels in the country.
“Our main goal is to drive more electronic payments, so we are working with all the right players in the market to help amplify and proliferate that,” Mr. Muhaddes told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of a Visa event in Makati City on Thursday.
He added that Visa is pushing for the contactless way of paying for goods and services, making transactions faster and more efficient.
“We’ve just recently had our contactless drive in the marketplace where you can now tap with the Visa contactless card.”
Visa brought in the Visa payWave technology to the Philippines as early as 2013, partnering with Citi Philippines.
Visa payWave can be used for small payments of up to P2,000. For purchases beyond the P2,000 limit, Visa cards will be used as regular cards which requires signature or personal identification number.
“It’s a work in progress. It’s happening, and we’re doing all of that to help drive the awareness as well as the usage of mobile payments,” he added.
Visa contactless payments are currently offered in SM Department and affiliate stores such Uniqlo, Crate and Barrel and Ace Hardware nationwide.
Mr. Muhaddes is optimistic on the growth of contactless payments in the Philippines as he sees the payment ecosystem in the Philippines comparable to that of neighboring countries in the next few years.
“When you travel to Singapore, you can use contactless cards from taxis all the way to the retail stores. We’re bringing that same value into the Philippine ecosystem and I think the journey has started.”
Despite the thrust in advancing electronic payments in the country, infrastructure and access continue to hamper growth, Mr. Muhaddes said.
“There are traditional challenges across all the Southeast Asian markets which is also relevant in the Philippines such as infrastructure and access,” he said, although he noted that the country is in the “right direction.”
“There’s a lot of room for electronic payments to grow in the Philippines, and I think it’s in the right direction. Over time, we’ll get there…”
During the 2018 Visa Security Summit held in Singapore on May 17, Visa Regional President for Asia Pacific Chris Clark said the infrastructure gap in the Philippines remains a challenge for the firm.
“You have these areas in the Philippines which are very wealthy and have better infrastructure. And when you think about the rest of the economy, more in rural areas, [these areas are] not necessarily always [have access] to mobile telephony, or even power in some cases,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Muhaddes added that Visa is also working on shielding its clients from cyber-attacks amid its aggressive push to digitize payments.
“As we proliferate digitization in the market, security comes hand-in-hand,” he said. “It’s the second nature for us. We’re very strong in building and investing in our security infrastructure.”
During the May summit, Visa said it has adopted innovative technologies such as deep learning, artificial intelligence as well as “tokenization” of sensitive data to shield clients from cyber attacks. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal