Under the “new normal” brought by COVID-19, we’re shifting to a society that’s fully supported by contactless digital infrastructure. Quarantined in their homes for months, people have become full-time netizens, transitioning many aspects of their lives online, whether its grocery shopping, socializing or keeping fit via YouTube classes.
This is a huge shift from Filipino consumer habits which were concentrated in malls and physical shops before the pandemic. E-commerce activity in past years represented a modest 4% of transactions for the Philippines, ranking it among the lowest in ASEAN and well below China and South Korea’s 30% digital penetration levels.
However, when access to physical retail and recreational spaces plunged 82% in the first four months of quarantine, the only safe option was to go contactless and digital.
“With the glass ceiling shattered by living in quarantine, the Filipinos’ march towards a digital lifestyle has reached critical mass,” said Home Credit’s Philippines’ Chief Information (CIO) Officer Susana Ong. “Digital has proven to be a good—at times even superior—alternative to the physical way of doing things. There’s no turning back from it.”
Susan—whose previous role as a long-time CIO in multinational company brought her to five countries, including Brazil, China, and Singapore, before shifting to the world of consumer finance with Home Credit—sees these changes accelerating the Philippines’ digital transformation. Access, however, remains a challenge. “Eight out of ten Filipinos do not have a bank account or have no access to digital lines of credit. This gap prevents the country from realizing full-on digitalization. This is where companies like Home Credit can close the loop and make a difference.”
Home Credit serves the needs of the “upgraded” Filipino consumer with a menu of innovative digital offerings via the My Home Credit mobile app, with over five million downloads to date. With the app, customers enjoy better financial flexibility with loans that can be processed in under a minute—and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. With Marketplace, the customer can shop from a wide range of merchants—and purchase their goods through Home Credit financing—without having to leave their home, or the app itself. And with an exciting loyalty program called SMILE Rewards, customers get access to thousands of retail partners across the country offering discounts and other great deals.
The latest feature is the ability to make payments via Quick Response (QR) codes—a unique digital code that the customer can use for his purchases—without the need to take out their physical plastic Home Credit card. “This seamless flow is integrated with our after-sales service, where we’ve complemented our network of agents with chatbot and voicebot support for a smooth customer journey,” she added.
The futurist in Susan is positive about the Filipinos’ road to full-on digitalization—and excited about things to come. “Where we’re at is just the beginning of endless possibilities for Filipinos using the My Home Credit App,” she shared. “2020 has given Filipino consumers a glimpse of a society that can benefit from full-on digitalization. We are ready and happy to help them embrace a truly digital lifestyle.”
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